Lone voice speaks out at county's budget hearing

NORWICH – It’s been a few years since someone spoke at a public hearing on the proposed annual budget for Chenango County, a plan that purports to levy $22,843,933 on taxpayers next year, an increase of .6 percent from the 2009 fiscal plan.

Preempting his comments with the words, “Somebody ought to speak up,” South New Berlin dairy farmer Ken Dibbell asked how much the county was in arrears on school and property tax collections.

“I know the farming community is about out of money and about out of credit. Few farmers have paid their school taxes, and might not be paying their property taxes,” said Dibbell.

Chenango County Treasurer William E. Evans said one of the most alarming signs of New York State’s and the nation’s current economic climate is the combined 9.5 percent increase in unpaid town and county, school district and village taxes returned by the various entities in 2009.

“This results in an increase of approximately $816,000 in our delinquent tax file,” he said.

While the county’s treasurer told Dibbell that he wasn’t prepared at the hearing with the specific amount of school taxes owed to the county, he said about $3.5 million delinquent school taxes had been returned over the past two years.

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