Posted at: 10/01/2012 11:18 PM
| Updated at: 10/02/2012 10:12 AM
By: Dan Bazile
SCHENECTADY -- Schenectady is already among the highest taxed counties in the Capital Region. But soon taxpayers could be paying more.
The county manager released the 2013 budget proposal after lawmakers overrode the two percent tax cap.
Before unveiling the budget, lawmakers in Schenectady County held a special meeting to approve the tax cap override.
"This vote essentially allows the manager to submit a budget she believes preserve public safety and public services," said Schenectady County Legislator Gary Hughes.
The 11-4 vote also paved the way for the county manager to propose a 7.49 percent tax hike in the 2013 budget.
The tax cap is set by state law at 2 percent. But municipalities can override it with a 60 percent majority vote.
Jim Buhrmaster, the lone Republican in the 15-member body, said the public's message was loud and clear during a meeting on Friday.
"And three quarters of them, all citizens, spoke against going above the tax cap," Buhrmaster said.
Buhrmaster said he's not in favor of the override nor the tax increase. He said the county needs to cut the size of government.
But Hughes said they've been cutting for the past three years without increasing taxes. He blames the tough fiscal situation on mandates that are swallowing most of the county's revenue.
"Ninety-two percent of that revenue goes to pay for our mandates, which include Medicaid, public assistance, corrections, the jail, prosecution of criminals," Hughes said.
"There are some big things that aren't mandated that we've let grow and grow and grow. And we can't any longer," Buhrmaster argued.
The new budget proposal also calls for a number of cuts, including 30 county jobs through attrition and the reorganization of certain programs.
The legislature will discuss the budget before voting on it. If approved, homeowners will be be paying $71 per year extra in county taxes with a home assessed value of $150,000.