Schenectady County OK's 5.9% tax increase for 2013
Posted at: 10/23/2012 9:58 PM
By: Jessica Layton
SCHENECTADY - Calling the financial situation a crisis, the lone Republican on the Schenectady County Legislature urged fellow lawmakers against passing a budget that calls for a 5.9% property tax increase.
"This tax increase we may be passing as a legislature tonight is a killer," said Jim Buhrmaster.
After the 9 to 6 vote in favor of the budget plan, Buhrmaster told NewsChannel 13 the legislature let down its county residents.
"I think we've gone way beyond what our taxpayers can handle," he said.
We asked the Democrat Gary Hughes, the board's majority leader, how they can justify a nearly 6 percent tax increase in these tough economic times.
"We have not increased taxes for years. So if you take this rate and divide by five, it's one percent. This year it sort of caught up with us," Hughes said.
The vote to override Governor Cuomo's 2 percent tax cap comes a day after he implored counties to live within their means.
"The numbers have to balance. You can only spend that which you take in," the Governor told reporters Monday.
But some legislators say it's impossible to do that, when the state seems to balance its budget on the backs of the counties with unfunded mandates.
"About 92 percent of all taxes we collect - sales and property tax - goes to a mandate," Hughes said.
The original proposal from the county manager called for a 7.49% tax increase. The democrats on the board proposed amendments to the plan Tuesday night lowering the increase to 5.9%.
Jim Buhrmaster argued the county has got to get out of the nursing home business, saying that would save hundreds of thousands of dollars. Hughes says the county has already made $800,000 in cuts to the nursing home.
Because the county isn't sure how many will take the bait on the retirement incentive they're offering, we still don't know how many positions will be cut through attrition.