Supervisors debate use of surplus in county budget

NORWICH – City of Norwich Supervisor James J. McNeil opened discussion of the Chenango County draft 2011 budget on Monday by saying he opposed the application of surplus and wouldn’t vote to set a public hearing of the budget without first revising it.

The proposed $84.1 million budget calls for $3.7 million in surplus, a move designed to keep next year’s property taxes low. Real property taxes will increase 1.01 percent and the average tentative tax rate is $12.73 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Total budget appropriations are $3.3 million more than last year’s.

Monday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors was an opportunity for lawmakers to set a date for the public hearing and determine whether or not to schedule special budget sessions leading up to it.

McNeil was joined by Town of Preston Supervisor Peter C. Flanagan in voting against setting the hearing, and – following a 30-minute executive session to discuss personnel issues – Flanagan cast the sole vote against doing away with the extra sessions.

“I cannot agree to a public hearing for this budget because the county general surplus exceeds any reasonable amount, and looking further down through the year, I can see we are facing further challenges,” said McNeil, a Democrat.

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