Legislators continue to whittle county budget

by Carol Thompson

Oswego County Legislature Chairman Fred Beardsley made it clear during Thursday’s meeting of the legislature’s Finance and Personnel Committee that the county’s budget woes are due to the burdensome unfunded mandates that the state continues to pass down to local governments.

Department heads offered small cuts that brought the budget under the mandated property tax cap by approximately $58,000, however, without more cuts there will be a property tax increase.

“None of us are having a real good time with this,” Beardsley said, adding that the county has been strapped with $4.8 million in additional costs passed down from the state. “Additional is the key word.”

In the last four years, the state has passed down from $12 to $15 million in additional costs, Beardsley noted. The chairman added that the fiscal position the county is in is not self-inflicted.

Beardsley said it is not the fault of the department heads and that no one should think they are not doing the best they can. It is the unfunded state mandates that have created the financial problems for the county, he stressed.

Legislators have passed a number of resolutions requesting state representatives ease the burden of the unfunded mandates. The resolutions were delivered to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senator Patty Ritchie and the four assembly representatives.

The county received no response or assistance, legislators claim, leaving them to cope with the additional costs.

A public hearing will be scheduled during tomorrow’s meeting of the full legislature and special committee meetings will be held later this month so that legislators can further work on the budget.

Currently, property owners will see a tax increase under two percent, however, the goal is to have no tax increase.

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