By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Sullivan County government’s 2012 budget remains right where County Manager David Fanslau first delivered it to the County Legislature.
Legislators refused to reconvene after declining to approve the budget in a 6-3 vote December 15. They needed to meet again by this past Tuesday if the budget were to be amended and officially passed.
Instead, the $194 million budget Fanslau presented featuring a two percent tax increase but no cuts in service or personnel automatically earned approval as Tuesday turned into Wednesday.
The new Legislature, to be seated in January, will have to do some funds shuffling if it wants to keep a contract with the Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development (which has enough money to maintain its Government Center presence until April).
One last change
At this past Thursday’s year-end meeting of the Legislature, however, one more financial item earned passage.
The 2011 capital portion of the budget was amended to let Sheriff Mike Schiff utilize unexpended monies to purchase a new patrol car, costing around $30,000 on state bid.
“This should be part of a regular capital plan that’s not put on the agenda two days before Christmas,” protested Legislator David Sager.
He and Legislator Kathy LaBuda noted that the Sheriff’s Office was the only department making such a request of surplus funds at the end of the year, even though other departments had suffered deep cuts as well. Plus the Legislature had authorized the purchase of three cruisers earlier this year.
But Schiff replied that his deputies are already dealing with two rusted-out patrol vehicles and another that’s at the end of its useful life. And Legislator Jodi Goodman added he had expressed a need for five cruisers this year, instead of the three the Legislature approved.
In the end, all the legislators (minus an absent Frank Armstrong) approved the purchase even Sager, though he hoped the new Legislature would ensure such a last-minute vote is not necessary in future years.