Elizabethtown Members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors started to look into trimming a 2012 tentative budget that called for a $23,851,238 tax levy.
The number represents a 9.5 percent increase to the net cost of the 2012 budget over the $21,786,435 required in 2011.
However, without making use of fund balance or any other transfers, the number represents an initial 62 percent increase over the 2011 tax levy, which was $14,724,045.
Lowering that number was the job the Budget Committee at the county started to work on during their first meeting Nov. 17.
“We have to be concerned about our duties to the taxpayers,” Joyce Morency, St. Armand Supervisor and chair of the budget committee said.
County Manager Daniel Palmer said that he had already worked to trim the budget from what departments had requested, which totaled a $28,186,363 increase to the levy.
“There are some positions that were not filled that were the year previously,” Palmer said. “Went through every equipment line for cuts. At that point, I decided that the appropriate thing to do was present the tentative budget with everything that we currently provide at the minimum amount that it would take to keep them.”
In 2011, the tax rate for county residents was $2.13 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Under the first draft of the tentative budget, that would rise to $3.53. And $156,000 is average residential property value in Essex County
County Budget Officer Thomas “Tom” Scozzafava said that while the county portion of the tax rate is low, people have a perception that taxes are to high as a whole.
“It is the overall impact, not just the county portion,” Scozzafava said. “They don’t really care if you try and separate this out, it’s what they pay in total taxes. The public perception is that we are living way beyond our means and we pay these big fat salaries to the department heads.