Two days after helping to open the first community store in the state of New York, Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward addressed members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors at its Oct. 31 Ways and Means Committee meeting.
The majority of her interaction with the supervisors, where she once served while seated as the Supervisor of Willsboro, focused on the difficulties the county says it faces with the 2 percent tax cap.
“We have a new governor (Andrew Cuomo - D) who has an agenda,” Sayward, a Republican, said. “He has spoken to us on many occasions, and he does understand the issues that we have in local governments about mandates. I believe that we have to tighten our belts at a town level, a county level, the state level and the federal level.”
“The issue that we are faced with is we don’t have the number of mandated services at the town level that we have at the county level,” Moriah Supervisor and county Budget Officer Thomas “Tom” Scozzafava said. “This year, Medicare is 45 percent of the levy. Our revenue stream from the state is also going down. The state is straightening out there fiscal mess, but it is coming down on the backs of the county taxpayers. The programs that we could end up eliminating are the ones that our constituents use every day.”
Sayward said that there were a number of concerns from across the state, but that it still had become time for “everyone to pay the piper.”
Scozzafava said that, no matter what cuts needed to be made, he was committed to presenting a budget to the supervisors on Nov. 15 that came in under the 2 percent tax levy cap.
“We are committed to providing a budget that is under the cap,” Scozzafava said.
Later in the meeting the committee voted to move a resolution to introduce a local law that allowed the county to override the cap through to the full board meeting next Monday. Nov. 7.
“This is going to send a message to our constituents unfortunately that is not true,” Scozzafava said. “We are going to present a budget that meets the 2 percent tax cap, and we are not doing this because we are not looking to cut costs.”
“You’re not sending a message now,” County Attorney Daniel Manning said. “Ultimately, you will have to vote on this. This is to introduce the local law, not to pass it. You need to do this before you pass your budget. This is only one step in the process. This is allowing you to get this out into the public and set a public hearing on it.”