By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO April 28, 2006 The county will likely be facing a $3 million shortfall in its budget due to the lack of support it has received so far for its proposed .5 percent sales tax increase.
The proposed increase, which would raise the sales tax in the county to 8 percent, has received no backing from New York State Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther or New York State Senator John Bonacic. Unless they introduce such a bill to the State Legislature, the county cannot raise its sales tax, only its property tax.
All spending resolutions at yesterdays monthly meeting were put off until next week due to the lack of approval for the tax increase.
The countys record $207 million budget, which was approved last December, relied on the .5 percent increase for all of its projections, including its 3.8 percent property tax hike.
The result will be a cut in non-mandated programs, said Legislator Leni Binder. However, meetings to discuss which programs will be cut have not been set yet.
Financial Management Committee Chairman and Legislature Vice Chairman Jonathan Rouis said he is still holding out hope that the Legislature will pass the sales tax increase.
Without the approvals, he said it would be imprudent and irresponsible to approve the spending resolutions, including $10,955,000 in bonds for the county jail, landfill expenses and paving costs.
The countys budget was put together with the assumption that the revenue stream from the sales tax would be in place on June 1. Should the revenue not materialize, we will need to take immediate action to make up for the shortfall in the budget, said Rouis,
But just where that shortfall would be made up was anybodys guess. Legislature Chairman Chris Cunningham issued a directive preventing legislators from speculating on what programs might be cut.
Newly hired Legislative Aide Alexis Eggleton said Cunningham has made the decision that the Legislature should not be speculating.
In fact, she followed reporters around as they questioned legislators as to what may have to be cut. She shook her head at legislators and instructed them not to speculate when questioned.