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October 25, 2012

Chenango budget has slight tax hike

Chenango County officials have packaged a proposed 2013 county budget that they say will comply with the state-imposed tax cap while raising taxes by 1.86 percent.

County Treasurer William Craine told The Daily Star the $86.7 million spending plan would keep the county debt-free, while it increases appropriations by just under 2.5 percent.

The average tax rate would increase in 2013 to $12.84 per $1,000 of assessed value, up from the 2012 rate of $12.54. Even with the increase though, the projected new rate would still be below the 2011 level, which stood at $12.87, Craine noted.

The spending plan spares Chenango County employees from any layoffs, even as a total of two and a half full-time jobs are cut through attrition, Craine said.

The reductions are achieved by eliminating one unfilled full-time post in the Area Agency on Aging, another in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services and a part-time position in the county Stop-DWI and traffic bureau.

“We don’t anticipate any type of diminution in any type of service.” Craine said when asked if any services to the public would be impacted by the staffing reduction.

Craine said a public hearing is tentatively scheduled to be held on the proposed budget the night of Nov. 27. “If everything goes smoothly, it will probably be adopted the next morning” by the county Board of Supervisors, Craine said..

“This budget represents a determination to deliver services as efficiently as possible ans assure that taxpayers receive the services they deserve, especially in trying economic times,” the treasurer said in a memo accompanying the spending blueprint.

The budget also calls for accelerating the county’s repaving schedule of county roads from every 11.8 years to every 10 years. That brings the county closer to its goal of repaving the roads every 7.5 years, Craine added.

The state imposed tax cap is on the total dollars raised by taxes. Craine said the budget plan accomplishes that by keeping the amount raised in 2013 to about $24.3 million, up from just below $23.9 million in 2012.

In addition, the plan lowers the sum applied to the general fund surplus by $180,000. “We’re trying to reduce the dependence on carryover funds,” Craine explained.

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