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November 19, 2013

Schoharie OKs budget with tax cut

By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Schoharie County’s budget for 2014 holds county appropriations to $71.7 million while the average county-wide tax rate would decline by 1.52 percent, County Treasurer William Cherry said Monday.

The county’s Board of Supervisors has adopted the spending plan, making only minor alterations to the budget blueprint drawn up by Cherry last month.

The final budget gives salary increases to non-union managerial employees, while bumping up the county pay awarded to town supervisors by $600 per year, for an increase of about six percent.

The raises to be handed out to the non-union workers will be phased in gradually over the next three years, Cherry said.

The increase is targeted at ending what he called inequities that resulted when the managerial employees were given pay increases totaling 2.5 percent, on average, over the past five years. Union workers, over that same period, saw their pay shoot up by 17 percent, on average.

The budget calls for no layoffs of county employees and requires no override of the state-imposed tax cap of 1.66 percent for 2014, the treasurer said.

Local county tax rates, under the state’s complicated equalization rate formula, would vary from town to town. Out of the 16 towns in the county, 14 would experience a rate decrease. The biggest rate increase — 11 percent — would be felt by Gilboa property owners.

In other action, the board has tapped Charity Bender for the newly created position of deputy personnel director for the county. She will handle the duties of suspended Personnel Director Cassandra Ethington, who was accused of abusive behavior towards county employees in a recent investigation of county government by a downstate law firm.

Bender is currently the deputy clerk for the Board of Supervisors, a job she will continue while overseeing activities in the personnel office.

The county has been struggling to recover from widespread property destruction caused by floods unleashed in 2011. County officials continue to push the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for the construction of a new public safety complex, rather than rebuilding the old one that is located in a floodplain.

Cherry, in his latest monthly report on the flood recovery efforts, advised the supervisors that he is hopeful that representatives from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office will be successful in their efforts to resolve the county’s protracted dispute with FEMA.