MONTICELLO, NY — Weeks of budget discussions finally came to an end as the Sullivan County Legislature voted in a new $235 million budget. But earlier in the day, simmering disagreements leaked …
MONTICELLO, NY — Weeks of budget discussions finally came to an end as the Sullivan County Legislature voted in a new $235 million budget. But earlier in the day, simmering disagreements leaked out in public.
Two themes emerged: the desire to limit spending to incoming revenue and to not raise taxes, and new legislators talking about how past legislatures spent more than they brought in.
No legislator wanted to bankrupt the county in pursuit of favorite projects, but cans had been kicked down the legislative road until they finally came to a stop. Joe Perrello, elected in 2016, noted that they’d inherited problems. Contracts had to be negotiated. Nadia Rajsz protested the past was a different situation: legislatures had more money to work with.
Ira Steingart brought up the jail, which the state required that the county resolve. “Realize that some of these decisions were not easy ones, but they were forced.”
“I apologize if you think I was pointing fingers,” chairman Rob Doherty said. “I’m just pointing out where we were and what we need to do moving forward.”
George Conklin, chair of the budget committee, talked about the people he represents and asked the committee not to forget them and their needs.
“In this current budget, there’s $230,000 in the planning budget, matching funds for river access... is it paved with gold blocks?” He noted that more money is set aside for a park for tourism. “In my constituency, I have many people who have a vested interest in the town, in the county. They own property, they raise families, they’re members of the fire department, the ambulance corps, the PTA, the school board, and they’re also volunteering at running things because they have a vested interest and they are taxpayers. Every day, I talk to more of them that are going to Delaware County, to Wayne County, shopping, because our area of Callicoon, Narrowsburg, Jeffersonville, has become so crowded that they go outside the county... that’s sales tax, and like I said, that’s people who are getting up at two in the morning to fight a fire, or at one in the afternoon leaving their jobs to pick their mother off the floor... We cannot lose sight of the core 80,000 people that live in our county. All of us sitting here, as servants to these people... tourism is great, I’m all for it... but we can’t lose sight of these people.”
They’re struggling with foreclosure, he said, “they’re struggling to pay their taxes.”