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'Budget Time' for NY Counties


It's that time of year: across New York, county legislative bodies continue to review and change proposed budgets. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas takes a look at the process and progress in this "sour" economy...

Most county budgets are still in process, but early indications are that 2013 , "year two" of the tax cap, will resemble 2012. 13 counties have passed legislation to override the cap: 10 others are considering doing so.

The New York State Association of Counties estimates 6 or more WILL override, because they will exceed their allowable tax cap limit - the remainder will do so as a precaution. NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario

7 of counties in the WAMC listening area are making decisions on providing long term care via nursing homes : they are Albany, Ulster, Saratoga, Warren, Orange, Otsego, Washington. Albany County lawmakers have voted to exceed the tax cap, approving a 2013 budget that raises taxes 7.6 percent and leaves the fate of the county-run nursing home up in the air.

In Westchester County, 126 employees who would have been laid off in County Executive Robert Astorino’s proposed $1.7 billion, 2013 budget will be saved. The Budget and Appropriations Committee of the Board of Legislators has voted to restore the jobs with money from the county’s fund balance. Legislature Chairman Ken Jenkins explains there will be no borrowing to retain the positions.

Sixty other unfilled job slots will be stricken from the budget. Some $16 million from the county’s $135 million fund balance is expected to cover the costs.

Westchester County legislators blasted elected officials in Albany for their continued imposition of mandates without financial relief. Lawmaker William Ryan is highly critical of state legislators in Albany.

NYSAC's Stephen Acquario credits Governor Cuomo for his efforts in trying to keep the state's finances on track. Acquario says New York needs "all hands on deck" in this "new economy emerging" to address fiscal issues and provide jobs.

Counties' Final budgets will be enacted by Dec 20th.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.