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The Times
  • Herkimer Co.’s tentative budget raises taxes 0.9%

  • Herkimer County’s tentative 2013 budget would increase spending by 1.3 percent and include a full-value rate hike of 0.9 percent.

    Legislator Patrick Russell, R - Old Forge, said the tentative budget would increase the tax levy, or the amount to be raised by property taxes, by $223,595, from $25,437,105 to $25,660,700.

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  • Herkimer County’s tentative 2013 budget would increase spending by 1.3 percent and include a full-value rate hike of 0.9 percent.
    Legislator Patrick Russell, R - Old Forge, said the tentative budget would increase the tax levy, or the amount to be raised by property taxes, by $223,595, from $25,437,105 to $25,660,700.
    He also said the county will use $1.3 million in general fund balance — with $9.6 million remaining — and $1 million in highway fund balance — with $2 million remaining — to keep taxes down.
    The anticipated tax rate per $1.00 of full value is .005398626, up from .005305224.
    Russell, the chairman of the legislature’s Committee on Ways and Means, on Wednesday emphasized the reflection on residents’ taxes will fluctuate depending on each town’s assessed values.
    The total budget, he said, is anticipated to be about $96,442,668, an increase of $1,197,878.
    “The committee believes this is a fair and honest budget,” said Russell. “Considering the state of the economy, to come in with an increase of less than one percent was the responsible thing to do.”
    Legislature Chairman Vincent Bono agreed with the Committee on Ways and Means’ position.
    “Putting forward a tentative budget that raises property taxes by less than one percent shows the committee and the legislature are cognizant of what the county residents are facing,” he said.
    Bono, R - Schuyler, added it’s important the county’s surplus fund balance remains strong.
    “The county must not reduce its fund balance to dangerously low levels,” he said. “While the tentative budget uses $1.3 million in general fund balance and $1 million in highway fund balance, it’s important to note the amounts that remain in reserve, as those moneys could prove to be critical in the years to come. Overall, I believe this is a good budget for Herkimer County.”
    Russell said payroll, retirement and highway were the big drivers behind the increase.
    He also said the tentative budget does not include raises for legislators.
    Non-bargaining and union employees will see a two percent increase in the budget.
    Legislator Dennis Korce, R - Mohawk, said by paying its $3.2 million in employee pension costs early, the county will realize a savings of $32,000. He added the state, the past two years, has offered local governments the possibility of paying a portion of its costs over a five- to 10-year period.
    “While this is a small savings, the county believes in the ‘pay as you go’ method, because this body does not feel it’s fair to put those expenses on future taxpayers,” he said. Korce added the county’s pension costs have more than doubled from $1.7 million in 2010 to $3.2 million in 2013.
    A public hearing on the tentative 2013 budget is set for Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. in the legislative chambers at the county office building at 109 Mary St., Herkimer.
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