MONTICELLO – By a 6-2 vote last Thursday, legislators approved the 2023 Sullivan County Budget.
The $268,364,511 budget does not propose incurring new debt or dipping into the fund balance of the General Fund.
“The budget approved today is testament to the prudent fiscal management of this Legislature and the County Manager,” said Legislature Chairman Robert A. Doherty, who voted for passage. “We continue to reduce our debt, increase our services, provide for our employees and give relief to our taxpayers. And we’re well-positioned to face whatever economic conditions come in 2023.”
“The budget should not have been flat,” stated District 2 Legislator Nadia Rajsz, who voted against passage. “We don’t know what the future will hold for our taxpayers and employees. We need to be properly prepared for 2023.”
“I am quite comfortable with this budget,” noted District 3 Legislator Mike Brooks, who voted for passage. “Our County is in a strong financial position, a position which recently was recognized by the State Comptroller’s Office for its fiscal health and standing. That – coupled with a budget that doesn’t raise taxes or cut services, while at the same time allowing us to create and enhance initiatives such as Sullivan Promise – does indeed have me looking forward to 2023 in a very positive way.”
“I think the budget was well-thought-out and well-planned,” added District 4 Legislator Nick Salomone, who voted for passage. “There will always be variables, but we were prudent in how we acted. We were very focused on our union employees as well as the taxpayers. And I’m happy our taxpayers will see some relief.”
“I’m pleased with this budget for several reasons: a net-zero impact, the removal of the unpopular Solid Waste Access Fee (a pet peeve), and taking care of all of our hardworking County employees,” said District 5 Legislator George Conklin, who voted for passage.
“The budget should have been analyzed further,” remarked District 6 Legislator Luis Alvarez, who voted against passage. “We’re in the business of taking care of people – that’s what this should be about.”
“Had I been able to be present, my vote on the County Budget would have been ‘yes,’” affirmed District 7 Legislator Joe Perrello, who was away for the meeting. “Our County Manager did a great job with the proposed version, and I like that it’s largely conservative in its approach. But we should always be sure to meet our infrastructure needs, and the adopted budget needed to have more money for our roads and bridges. It also should not have been a zero percent tax increase – costs are increasing, and we need to be prudent in how we plan for an uncertain future.”
“There are things I did not agree with, but I realized we needed to approve this budget,” explained District 8 Legislator Ira Steingart, who voted for passage. “We can always make adjustments to the budget as the year goes on.”
“My compliments to the County Manager’s Office, the department heads and everyone who was involved in creating this budget,” said District 9 Legislator Alan Sorensen, who voted for passage. “What we approved today responds to the needs of the County without increasing taxes.”
Highlights of the Tentative 2023 County Budget include:
* An historic $21 million for road and bridgework throughout the County, to be achieved without going into debt by bonding
* $4 million for a 20-year building plan with County facilities and the creation of an indoor arena at SUNY Sullivan
* $1 million to keep Move Sullivan’s buses running along four newly expanded routes
* $200,000 to implement the recommendations of the just-completed Housing Study
* $200,000 to invest in employee training, higher education and leadership development
* $200,000 to demolish blighted properties via the Sullivan County Land Bank
* $150,000 for a Countywide Parks Master Plan
* Plus more funding for the Sullivan Promise Scholarship (doubling the tuition reimbursement from one year to two years), the Youth Bureau, and the Bureau of Fire’s firefighter recruitment effort
The County Clerk’s Office and the Department of Motor Vehicles (which it oversees) will renovate their offices to improve workflow and customer service, while the Office of Emergency Management is proposed to add a deputy commissioner and support staff.