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County Wrestles
With Its Budget

By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO — November 12, 2002 – While many other areas are facing double-digit tax increases, the Sullivan County Legislature has created a budget with a zero percent real property tax increase. The proposed budget, however, calls for a 3/4 of a percent increase in the local sales tax.
Hearings on the budget are scheduled for Tuesday, November 12 at 7 p.m. and Thursday, November 14 at 1:50 p.m. The final budget is due by December 20.
As the process goes on, discussions have been held to tweak and improve the budget. Such a discussion took place on Thursday, November 7 at the Legislature’s Financial Management Committee meeting. The legislators were looking to see if additional meetings were needed.
“County Manager Dan Briggs presented the budget on October 1,” noted Sullivan County Financial Management Administration Commissioner Richard LaCondré. “The time to ask questions is now. Begin now, and if we need to, we’ll set up another meeting.”
“Let the hearings take their course,” stated District 8 Legislator Bob Kunis. “Then we can set a special meeting.”
“That is the direction I was going,” remarked District 5 Legislator Rodney Gaebel. “Any concerns you have, put them down in writing. Or you have access to Richard [LaCondré] or [County Manager] Danny [Briggs] – ask them questions at any time. You can have the discussions prior. This does not have to be painful or time-consuming.”
To make sure there will be enough time to discuss the issue at next month’s Financial Management meeting on December 5, District 6 Legislator Jodi Goodman offered to move her Consumer Affairs and Information Technologies Committee meeting from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Financial Management Committee Chair Kathleen LaBuda accepted the offer and thanked her.
Gaebel also reminded everyone that they needed to discuss the sales tax issue at that next meeting. Gaebel requested that Briggs provide the fund balance and budget projections over the next few years.
“If we decide to raise sales taxes, it would be a minimum of three to six months before the State Legislature passes it,” Legislature Chair Leni Binder said. “Next year’s budget will not have that money. It is not really for 2003. There would only be about three months of income. This is for future financial planning.”
“We have had a plan in place until 2004,” remarked LaBuda. “We are not broke yet.”
It was agreed that would be the course taken. Several legislators met with Briggs and LaCondré after the meetings to ask questions. More discussions will take place at the budget hearings on Tuesday evening.

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