Though he acknowledged the work that went into Schoharie County $72 million tentative budget for 2010, Treasurer and former budget officer Bill Cherry is not happy with the proposed tax rate hikes.
In an interview Monday, Mr. Cherry said there are 13 towns in the county that will see tax rate increases in 2010 unless there’s drastic cutting.
He pointed at possible tax rate increases of 21.99 percent in Conesville, 10.61 in Gilboa and 13.06 in Jefferson as well as eight percent in Cobleskill, and 7.8 percent in Carlisle, Seward and Sharon.
“I just believe taxpayers in Schoharie County can’t afford those tax increases,” he said.
“In a time of record-high unemployment, 10 to 11 to 22 percent increases are just unacceptable.”
He commended the work of new budget officers Paul Brady and Alicia Terry, but said spending is too high.
“We have to get back to basics,” said Mr. Cherry, who resigned as budget officer in the spring after warning of an impending budget crisis and getting what he felt was a lack of adequate response from the county board.
There are many agencies not necessarily part of the core services that the county government must provide, he said.
“They’re a lot of tentacles of county government that are not mandated.”
It will now be up to supervisors to protect taxpayers, he said.
Earlier this year, supervisors enacted a hiring moratorium but that that hiring freeze could have been implemented earlier to save more funds, Mr. Cherry said.
He also noted that funds were put in the 2009 budget for tourism that he fought last year as budget officer.
Mr. Cherry said he did appreciate that Mr. Brady and Ms. Terry did not budget any fund balance from the general fund to cut taxes.
The county was able to use $1.6 million in fund balance to cut taxes last year but declining sales tax revenue and no funds from the gas tax because of lower prices left no extra funds this year, he said.
“It’s just not there.”