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Washington County cuts may hit fair's budget

2010-10-24T09:00:00Z Washington County cuts may hit fair's budgetBy LYDIA WHEELER lwheeler@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star
October 24, 2010 9:00 am  • 

FORT EDWARD -- The Washington County Fair might have to hire a private security crew next year.

After the 2011 preliminary budget came in with a $5 million gap between spending and revenue, Brian Campbell, the county's budget officer, singled out specific departments that needed to cut down their requests and gave them each a target figure.

The Sheriff's Department was asked to bring its original request of $2,839,357 down to $1.5 million.

"In an effort to cut anywhere I could without cutting the patrols out there, I looked at all the various community service details, which we do that create overtime, and reduced that from the budget," said Washington County Sheriff Roger Leclaire.

For years, Leclaire said, the Sheriff's Department has provided traffic control and/or security to 32 area events totaling 1,323 hours in overtime at a base rate of $39.97 per hour.

Events on the list include the Washington County Fair, community parades, charity motorcycle runs, the annual Spring Public Auction at Falls Farm and Garden Equipment Co, and The Tour of the Battenkill Valley Bicycle Race.

The Washington County Fair accounts for more overtime than any other event on the list, at 300 hours.

"It can run anywhere from $13,000 to $18,000 for the fair," said Undersheriff Matthew Mabb.

Mark St. Jacques, general manager of the Washington County Fair, didn't seem too surprised on Thursday to hear that the fair may lose its sheriff security service next year.

"We've gone through this before," he said adding that the county cut sheriff security for one year about five years ago in an effort to save money.

St. Jacques said they will just have to hire a private security company.

"We're in the process of putting some numbers together. Every year, there is always that threat. We have a little time between now and the fair. It gives us a little time to look at it," he said.

With cutting community service details from the budget, Leclaire said, he was able to save $52,234, but he said he can't cut anymore without tapping into personnel.

"I've done everything I can. If I have to cut any more, that's what's left," he said.

Supervisors seemed receptive to the sheriff's cuts at Tuesday's Finance Committee Meeting, questioning why they were providing services for private events like the Falls Farm and Garden Equipment Co. auction to begin with.

Jackson Supervisor Alan Brown said if the department planned for these events in advance they wouldn't have to be clocked as overtime.

While departments like the Sheriff's Office said they are making difficult cuts, Gayle Hall, Fort Ann supervisor and former county budget officer, became frustrated at Tuesday's meeting when two hours passed and no cuts had been made.

"We're putting off making tough decisions because we don't want to make them and make people upset with us. We've been sitting here since 1 and we haven't done one thing towards the budget. It's your responsibility to do that," she said to Campbell.

Hall then proposed a motion to have the budget officer take the budget, make cuts and present a 2011 tentative budget with an acceptable tax levy increase, preferably at zero percent.

Her motion was approved by the committee, but Campbell voted against it saying he thinks it's impossible to get the budget down to a zero percent increase.

Hall's comments then prompted Kingsbury Supervisor Jim Lindsay to make a motion to close the transfer stations by June 30.

The Board of Supervisors have been debating, as they say, "getting out of the trash business" for years.

On Friday, after hearing of Lindsay's motion, Tracy Frisch, the President of the Greenwich Citizens Committee said the committee is outraged by the short-sighted actions of some town supervisors.

"Take any enterprise treat it with contempt and hostility, repeatedly threaten and cut employee jobs, do absolutely no marketing or strategic planning, and you've got a recipe for failure. You're setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy. That's exactly what the county has been doing for years with the transfer stations," she said.

Frisch said closing the transfer stations would provide waste haulers the opportunity to form a monopoly and raise their rates considerably.

"Doing away with the transfer stations actually imposes additional new costs on a large segment of the population," she said.

Campbell is scheduled to present the tentative 2011 budget on Thursday at 1 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors chambers.

Copyright 2015 Glens Falls Post-Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(9) Comments

  1. Watching Out
    Report Abuse
    Watching Out - October 25, 2010 4:11 pm
    Can we all agree that Falls Farm and Garden should pay for their own security at the spring auction?

    The County Fair, which is run by a private corporation, should also pay. What happens to the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the Fair takes in each year? Does the County, which kicks in free security each year, even audit their books?

    No wonder that our taxes are going through the roof.
  2. toughjustice
    Report Abuse
    toughjustice - October 25, 2010 9:51 am
    I think I now understand what it takes to 'drive a person to drink'
  3. toughjustice
    Report Abuse
    toughjustice - October 25, 2010 9:47 am
    Did Ms. Hall have any suggestions of her own on where to cut the budget? It appears there is a lot of posturing going on for the purpose of 'grabbing headlines'. As a former budget officer herself, perhaps she could purpose the cuts for Mr. Campbell to approve. It appears that she would rather 'grandstand' than to make the tough decisions or proposals herself and risk ticking off those taxpayers she so fondly speaks of. I am sure politics plays no part in the games being played.
  4. listen2me
    Report Abuse
    listen2me - October 25, 2010 7:22 am
    This year during the far I had seen several troopers cars sitting watch near the gates. Why can't they be security instead?
  5. firemanham39
    Report Abuse
    firemanham39 - October 25, 2010 12:46 am
    always thinking said: "Let everyone that uses the fairgrounds hire their own security and as for the fair, raise the price of the tickets to cover the security but don't do away with the fair because we all know that there aren't that many places we can go around to have a good time. "

    yup the fair is over priced already and you want them to raise the price even more. shame on you and as for the issue with the transfer stations dont be surprised if people start up the "family landfills" up again or they just go out and burn it because the cost for privite trash removal is very high on an already tight budget
  6. Doubter_2
    Report Abuse
    Doubter_2 - October 24, 2010 9:50 pm
    Wink, wink...
    I wonder where the private security company will get its officers from to cover the County Fair ? I'll even go so far as to say the officers might not have to even change uniforms.
  7. always thinking
    Report Abuse
    always thinking - October 24, 2010 1:17 pm
    Let everyone that uses the fairgrounds hire their own security and as for the fair, raise the price of the tickets to cover the security but don't do away with the fair because we all know that there aren't that many places we can go around to have a good time.
  8. Watching Out
    Report Abuse
    Watching Out - October 24, 2010 11:04 am
    If the Fair has money to pay for private security, why wasn't it paying the County for the Sheriff's overtime in the first place?

    The Fair's position is "Will let you do it for free, but if we have to pay someone, we are going elsewhere?"

    As a taxpayer, I would vote for not one dime to subsidize this operation in the future. Don't they charge admission to taxpayers or do taxpayers get in free?
  9. givemebreak
    Report Abuse
    givemebreak - October 24, 2010 9:27 am
    oh sure, send DeLorme and Baker to Disneyland while all the rest of the county workers have to worry about thier job being cut..

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