James Johnson, vice chairman of the Otsego County Board of Representatives, wants to amend the county's $115,316,393 budget for 2010.
``I think the budget we adopted was irresponsible, and I hope we can do something about it when we meet on Wednesday,'' Johnson said Friday.
Essentially, the county board overestimated revenue, left its reserve funds dangerously low and failed to fully account for New York state's perilous financial condition when it adopted a budget Dec. 2, he said.
In an e-mail sent to board Chairman James Powers on Thursday, Johnson wrote, ``This budget is clearly disingenuous about the fiscal health of the county and the state.
``Its proponents used tricks and gimmicks to allow for the excessive spending they reinstated at the board meeting, and as a result are jeopardizing the entire county government, all of its services, all of its employees and all of its residents.
``It is my opinion that this is dereliction of duty and cannot be allowed to stand,'' Johnson wrote in the e-mail.
In his e-mail, Johnson noted that news of New York state's shortfalls continues to worsen.
``It is clear that our worries are legitimate, as the governor has ordered the state budget director to withhold certifications that permit the state reimbursement payments to local governments.
"These payments, to reimburse the county for money and programs already spent and/or committed to, will not be coming. And yet, the board at the Dec. 2 meeting proceeded to use a `head in the sand' approach to crafting the budget.''
On Thursday night, Powers said he believes the budget should stand.
``It's not a perfect budget, but I think we did pretty well under the circumstances,'' he said.
Johnson said Friday that a representative who voted for the budget has the ability to ask the board to reconsider the spending plan.
``Because I voted against the budget, I can't bring it up, but someone from the majority can,'' he said.
According to Laura Child, the board's clerk-auditor, if a majority of representatives want to reconsider the budget, it may be amended. If amendments are approved, the board would then need to vote on whether to accept the amended budget.
The board is slated to finalize the tax implications of the adopted budget at the meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, so any changes made that night will make it difficult to send out tax bills on time, Child said.
By law, the county cannot amend a budget after Dec. 20.
On Friday, James Eisel, chairman of the Delaware County Board of Supervisors, said he also is worried about news that Albany will slow down reimbursement payments to counties.
``If the legislature can't cut specific programs, what the state really needs to do is have a 20 percent across-the-board cut and spread out the pain,'' he said.
``The state has been spending beyond its means for years, and now we're in a mess,'' Eisel said.
However, Delaware County has adequate reserves to ride out a lag in state reimbursements, he said.
``We have a very conservative budget, and I think we can stick to it."
William Evans, Chenango County's treasurer, had similar thoughts about his county's budget.
``I think we can ride out in the short term,'' he said.
If New York state falls behind its reimbursement payment schedule but eventually pays, the county will be OK, he said. But if the state reneges on its commitments to counties, Evans said most of the counties in the state will be in trouble.
He noted that counties send money to the state as well, and at some point, they may consider returning the favor.
``We're not going to sit here forever not receiving reimbursements and continue to pony up our Medicaid payment,'' he said. ``That wouldn't be my call, but it's certainly something I'll put on the table if it keeps up.''
On Friday, Johnson said he worries Otsego County does not have the reserve funds to weather a delay in state payments.
The county's reserves total less than $6 million, when according to the state Comptroller's Office, they should be at least three times as much, he said.
If the board opts to reconsider the 2010 budget, Johnson said he will propose reducing expected sales-tax revenue by $500,000, to $29.5 million, then listen to his colleagues about the best ways make corresponding cuts to spending.