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O'Hearn calls for $1M in cuts for proposed budget

SCHUYLER COUNTY–To avoid a property tax increase next year, Schuyler County department heads must find $1 million in cuts before presenting a proposed 2010 budget to the county legislature.
County Administrator Tim O’Hearn said the cuts are necessary to offset increased expenses next year in such areas as health insurance and election operations. O’Hearn said the county also expects revenue cuts in other areas of its $42 million budget.  He outlined preliminary budget calculations at Wednesday’s meeting of the Legislative Resolutions Review Committee.
“There’s the potential for cutting programs and personnel,” O’Hearn said. “There will be some hard decisions to be made.”
Legislature Chairman Thomas Gifford said higher enrollment at Corning Community College will also drive up costs for the county.
O’Hearn said he is budgeting for a 17 percent increase in health insurance costs next year, which will add about $500,000 to the county’s bill.
One area in which revenue appears to be stable is sales tax, where O’Hearn expects a three percent increase next year to bring in about $250,000 in new revenues.
O’Hearn also announced that the county has received federal stimulus funding to establish a public bus system that will connect Schuyler’s four villages - Burdett, Watkins Glen, Montour Falls and Odessa.
“We got all but $5,000 of what we requested,” O’Hearn said.
The $300,000 in grant funds will finance the purchase of three buses, which will be operated by The Arc of Schuyler County.
“We expect to have the system in service by spring 2010,” O’Hearn said.
O’Hearn said the county is also planning for a potential outbreak of swine flu. He said contingency plans have been prepared with major employers to reduce their staff by up to 40 percent in case of a serious pandemic. Immunization clinics and public education efforts are also being organized.

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