QUEENSBURY — Warren County supervisors met for more than two hours Thursday to pore over the $156.9 million proposed county budget for 2019 and weigh proposed cuts, but walked away without doing any trimming.
After debating a variety of ideas to trim the budget, including doing away with raises for some employees, holding the line on tourism funding and opting not to hire three new employees, supervisors on the county board’s Budget Committee opted to stay the course.
Several supervisors had proposed about $300,000 in cuts to personnel and tourism funding for the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau, while there was also a call to use savings to do away with the need for a 2.4 percent property tax increase.
“I’m concerned we’re going to have deficit spending next year,” said Glens Falls 1st Ward Supervisor Jack Diamond.
In the end, the 11-member Budget Committee decided not to make any additional cuts and to forward Budget Officer Frank Thomas’s proposal for a public hearing and potential vote next week.
A number of department heads attended the meeting to defend their requests for additional help, with the Sheriff’s Office asking for an additional emergency dispatcher and the Information Technology department looking for an additional computer technician.
Both agencies emphasized the public safety aspects of their requests, with Undersheriff Shawn Lamouree saying the dispatch center has gotten busier by the year and runs at minimum staffing for much of the time.
Michael Colvin, the county’s IT director, said his staff was cut a position years ago and can’t keep up with its growing workload. Five employees have to maintain over 700 computers as well as peripheral equipment and networks.
He said his office also needs to keep up with cybersecurity, and a problem in that regard could cause significant trouble and financial loss.
The committee also discussed a proposal to scrap additional raises for some employees, above the 2.6 percent increase all are to receive, as there was no analysis done of them beforehand. The committee directed that a new process be set up in which county Administrator Ryan Moore will look at merit increases.
Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Doug Beaty had recommended using just over $1 million of the county’s nearly $20 million savings account to close the 2019 budget gap and not increase property taxes next year.
He pulled that proposal in light of a lack of support, while proposed funding of $400,000 for the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce & CVB, a $100,000 increase over this year’s funds, was left intact along with $50,000 in funding for animal control. Diamond had asked to leave the tourism money at the 2018 level and to cut animal control by $35,000.
“I think there were some good discussions, and anyone who wants to discuss it further can do so at the (budget) public hearing,” said Warrensburg Supervisor Kevin Geraghty, who sits on the Budget Committee.
The budget will be the subject of a public hearing at the Board of Supervisors’ regular meeting on Nov. 16.