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Essex County preps override legislation; talks cuts

The Essex County Board of Supervisors.

The Essex County Board of Supervisors. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— It is going to be painful for the first two years,” Palmer said in announcing his plan. “We will be bleeding a lot of the fund balance. I would rather have some agreement with the board before I file a tentative budget.”

Palmer said that, at the moment, there would be a lot of pain in order to get to the tax levy cap, which he felt the county could not bear.

“Right now, we would have to eliminate 150 positions in the county in order to bridge the gap that we have in the budget right now,“ Palmer said. “I do not see how you can operate the county with 150 less employees.”

Westport town supervisor Daniel Connell agreed.

“I would expect that we are looking at a huge number of layoffs, and I do not know how you can run the county if you cut a lot of people. I don't know if you can do it if you cut anyone,” he said. “There is one department that we have met with that needs to hire two people or it will actually cost us more to run it.”

Connell and Chesterfield supervisor Gerald Morrow talked about their ability to meet the cap at the town level. Scozzafava responded by saying that it was either meeting it at the town or county level.

“The county is subsidizing many of the services that the towns in other counties take care of,” he said. “If we eliminate that funding to those programs, then it would be the towns that would be having the difficulty to meet the cap.”

“I do not think that I am going to be on the board long enough to see us meet the cap,” Morrow said.

County Attorney Daniel Manning said that the introduction of a new local law did not mean passage, but set up the opportunity for a public hearing, after which the board would be able to decide whether or not to proceed.

“This just allows us to get the local law before the board, it does not already override the cap,” he said.

“This will just put it out there right now and give us the option,” Scozzafava said.

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