Chairman Decker remarks on potential budget cuts, revenue efforts

NORWICH – After the first two months of 2011, Chenango County lawmakers have found little success cutting government spending or taking advantage of the money-making opportunities available to them, no matter how slight.

This is not what they set out to do. Several supervisors echoed Town of Norwich’s David C. Law who in December, at budget making time, said: “Let’s get this job started next year in January, not in November. We need to look at everything in January and work right through. We can’t wait. The times are changing; we’ve got to make changes.”

New York State blasted counties with a 3 percent increase in spending requirements for mandated programs last year. Medicaid and other state and federal government programs increased Chenango County’s local share by more than $3 million. More and deeper increases loom ahead, according to Governor Cuomo’s budget plans.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Richard B. Decker took some time last week to remark on a short list of actions that were proposed at budget time in December, and that are beginning to make their way through the committee system. He said there are some additional cost-saving items in the preliminary stages that he’s not at liberty to discuss yet.

“The dynamics coming out of Washington, they are changing everything. Most counties really don’t know where to start with this. And we have no idea, yet, of what’s coming out of Albany,” he said.

But the chairman said he’d “support anything that’s going to save money. Every little step leads to a bigger step,” he said.

The chairman previously suggested that a personal income tax hike might relieve some of the pressure. Other suggestions have included contracting for public health nurses, finding another provider for the alcohol and drug program and consolidating Traffic and Stop DWI. As for existing government employees, Decker said there had been no discussion of lay-offs.

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