Public input sought on budget cuts

To the Adirondack Journal:

Warren County expenditures grew from $72 million in 1998 to $145 million in 2012 while our population only grew 4 percent. We have accumulated $46 million in debt and our annual debt service is estimated to be $3.8 million this year.

At a recent Warren County Board of Supervisors meeting, I proposed a freeze on property taxes, primarily because New Yorkers are over-taxed.

I don’t think taxpayers should continue to be punished for excesses in government spending, and unsustainable mandated expenses — including costs stemming the union-negotiated benefit packages for state and public employees.

Our state has been home to the highest overall taxes during 26 of the past 30 years and we have the highest property taxes in the U.S. (See: www.taxfoundation.org).

People need relief and it has to start somewhere. When do you draw the line?

I believe there are efficiencies and savings in the county budget and I have proposed a number of areas to work on including procurement, medical insurance, energy efficiencies, time management practices, municipal partnerships, outsourcing, applying for mandate waivers and a moratorium on capital projects to allow the county time to pay off some debt.

I am advocating a fact-based discussion, open to the public, on potential privatization of the Westmount Nursing home so that we can responsibly plan for the future. Out of the 62 counties in New York, 32 counties still operate home care or nursing home facilities. Thirteen including Washington and Saratoga Counties are investigating whether or not to stay in the business because of declining revenues and increasing costs primarily due to county and state negotiated increases in employee benefits.

Negotiations with the public employee unions on contracts will have a dramatic impact on the budget as the county grapples with the rising cost of health insurance and rapidly escalating costs of paying into the public employee retirement and pension system.

There are tough choices to be made. We on the Warren County Board of Supervisors work for you. With your participation and input, I believe we will make the right choices going forward.

Please get informed and let us know how you feel.

Mark Westcott

Warren County Supervisor


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