Dan Hust | Democrat
TOUGH CHOICES LOOM in 2009 for Sullivan County. County Manager David Fanslau wants to spend $926,000 less, but that will come with a seven percent property tax increase for property owners within the county.
County unveils budget
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Sullivan County Manager David Fanslau’s plan is to spend $926,100 less next year.
But if legislators pass his proposed $191,228,499 county budget as is, property owners will be paying 7 percent more in taxes in 2009.
“This decrease in spending is prudent and necessary, as major revenue sources are either flat or are declining from 2008 levels, as a result of the current global recession,” Fanslau wrote to legislators.
For example, sales taxes have not hit estimates, but the state continues to push unfunded mandates on the county.
Yet even by not filling 50 vacant positions and attritioning or realigning another 14, 14 county workers will lose their jobs (though half or more of those 14 will likely be offered employment elsewhere in county government).
While the county’s outsourced cleaning firm will find its contract cut, private transportation companies will find opportunities by taking over the shuttling of Medicaid patients. This phasing-out of public services to private entities may become a trend, according to Fanslau’s message to legislators.
Fees may increase, as well, from Fort Delaware to Lake Superior to the landfill. And Fanslau is proposing a waste district whereby all in-county trash is required to be disposed of at the landfill, possibly recouping as much as $1.5 million.
Legislators said a new fiscal reality is at hand.
“Government can’t operate the way it has historically operated,” said Legislature Chair Jonathan Rouis.
“We no longer live in an unrestrained age of expectations for more,” added Vice Chair Ron Hiatt.
“It’s not a Democratic or Republican budget,” explained Minority Leader Leni Binder. “It’s a county budget.”
Legislators promised more discussion is forthcoming, expected to begin later this month and extend into the public hearings and final adoption slated for December.