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Essex County Manager has three year plan for budget

Moriah Supervisor and budget liaison Tom Scozzafava and Essex County Manager Daniel Palmer, who announced that he along with his wife, Deborah, would be retiring from county service Jan. 1.

Moriah Supervisor and budget liaison Tom Scozzafava and Essex County Manager Daniel Palmer, who announced that he along with his wife, Deborah, would be retiring from county service Jan. 1. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston said he agreed with Palmer’s assessments, but that more needed to be done to bring down current costs.

“There is no easy fix whether you lay off 100 people or go up 26-percent in tax levy,” Preston said. “We do have one of the lowest tax rates in Essex County, but there are factors. I do not know of anybody whose salary has gone up as much as their county, town and school taxes, if they were even able to stay level.

“I don’t think there are any easy answers,” Preston continued. “In fact, I think that this is going to get bloody. Do you think I want to cut the Office of the Aging or Public Health nurses or cleaning, but I have opinions on this and they are not going to be popular and as painful as it is going to be, we need to make some serious cuts.”

“I do not think that there is anyone in this room that wants to see a 26 percent tax levy increase, but you are going to have to either raise taxes or cut services,” Moriah Supervisor and budget liaison Tom Scozzafava said.

Keene Supervisor Bill Ferebee said he wanted people to know that continuing to use fund balance was not the answer.

“If we continue to do that at the county or in our towns, we are going to run out,” he said. “It is going to hurt us all because one day the bank is going to call.”

Scozzafava said that along with the three year plan, he would present a budget for 2012 that fell within the tax cap. Palmer later replied by saying that in order to do that would mean either the use of $8.3 million in fund balance or the elimination of approximately 75 jobs.

“I do not think that you could meet the federal or state mandates for delivery of service if you cut 75 people,” Palmer said.

“These 75 people that would be cut do not come from another planet or somewhere else,” Scozzafava added. “These people are also our constituents.”

Board Chairman and Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas said that the process and meetings would continue.

“There is a lot more thought process that goes into this then we get credit for,” he said.

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