ELIZABETHTOWN - Why do we have to be the bad guys?
That was the question that county representatives asked during the monthly meeting of the Intercounty Legislative Committee of the Adirondacks, held at the Essex County government center Feb. 17.
The comments were made during a presentation on the budget and state issues by NYSAClegislative coordinator Kathryn Vescio.
"There's been discussion that there is a way to opt out of the two-percent tax levy increase, but if anyone were to do that, they would be pinned as the bad guy," George Canon, Newcomb town supervisor, said to the assembled town supervisors and county administrators.
"The state has made it so easy for them to come out looking like the hero," Dan Stec, chairman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors and Queensbury supervisor, said. "A county needs only a two-thirds vote to opt out of the cap in order to save an office of the aging or other vital, non-mandated program, which would be easy to get in order to save something like that. Then the state rides in and says we gave them a way to keep taxes down, but your local officials dropped the ball."
Stec said that the real problem lies in changing programs, not changing where the money comes from.
"Unless you fundamentally change programs, then you are just changing where the spending is coming from," said Stec. "Just pushing it from property taxes to income taxes is not going to help the taxpayer."
Essex County Board chairman and Jay town supervisor Randy Douglas agreed.
"We have programs that have received cuts and we are going to have to figure out how to make up that difference," Douglas said. "Right now, without changing anything and without the money that we are losing from the state, we are looking at a way more than two-percent increase in our tax levy."