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Local News

October 31, 2013

Treasurer: Budget plan has slim tax hike|

(Continued)

Rep. Katherine Stuligross, D-Oneonta, said she was disappointed that the board appears ready to sign off on a budget package that would leave department heads and other non-union managerial workers without any cost-of-living increases in their paychecks.

Managerial workers’ hopes for a pay raise were bolstered earlier this month when Russ Bachman, then serving as the county’s acting treasurer while Crowell was serving on active duty with the U.S. Army Reserves, concluded that the county could afford increasing their salaries.

“I really think if it’s all possible we should give raises to management,” Stuligross said. While there is still time to make alterations to the spending blueprint, it is not likely that the majority of the board would vote to insert a pay increase into the budget, she said.

Crowell said he understands the case for giving raises to those who have worked several successive years without one.

“It’s certainly something that needs to be addressed,” he said. “But the current climate is not the right time.”

The county’s financial picture is expected to improve dramatically if a local development corporation headed by Stuligross succeeds in selling the 174-bed Otsego Manor.

The Manor’s budget for 2014 has been set at $23 million. The nursing home is expected to take in $18.6 million from its billings and reimbursements, requiring the county to provide it with a $4.3 million subsidy in 2014, Crowell said.

He said it was prudent to issue a spending plan that keeps the Manor fully funded for all of 2014, even though county officials are hoping to complete the privatization of the facility in the coming months.

Crowell credited the county department managers for their contributions in helping to keep the budget lean.

“Our department heads did a great job, for the third year in a row, in going over their budgets that were tight to begin with,” Crowell said. “Then Russ and the board, with members from both sides of the aisle, worked very hard together in making some cuts from there.”

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