Vanderhoef Vetoes Push County Property Tax Hike Over 10 Percent

BY MICHAEL RICONDA

vanderhoefNew City – In a reversal of the agreed upon budget and a sign of further budget work to come, the County Legislature voted on 16 separate items in the county’s 2014 budget which had been vetoed by the County Executive, overriding six and sustaining the vetoes for the remaining ten.

The reversals totaled $460,167 in additional expenditures and each passed by varying margins. In the absence of additional cuts, the new expenditures will likely be covered by further increases to the county’s property tax, which had already been increased by 9.9 percent for the coming fiscal year.

Most of the budget items addressed salaries for police, corrections, administrative and hospital personnel, though some items covering departmental supplies and contingencies. All six of the overrides restored cuts to salaries, while one sustained veto cut $7,965 from contingencies.

If all of the vetoes were sustained, expenditures could have jumped up by $873,693. Arguing the budget was good and did not need tinkering, Legislator Michael Grant stated the best option was a blanket override that would have preserved the budget approved by the Legislature.

“There is nothing that couldn’t have been fixed after the first of the year,” Grant said.

However, Legislator and County Executive Elect Ed Day voted against several of the overrides, arguing it was a good opportunity to restore programs he did not personally believe should have been cut. “I had an issue, frankly, when you start hurting these [departments] operationally,” Day said. “There was actually some agreement amongst colleagues who were in favor of the legislative budget that actually cut these positions that some of these positions were critical from an operational perspective.”

Day is among several legislators who voted against the Legislature’s budget, saying at the time that it was a symbolic protest vote against burdensome property taxes. By law, if the Legislature fails to pass a budget, the county executive’s budget automatically takes effect.

Veto overrides are often more difficult to accomplish than regular votes because they require super-majorities. Almost all of the vetoes overridden by the legislature passed by unanimous vote, with the exception of one which only gathered nay votes from two legislators.

The following positions and programs had money restored to them via Vanderhoef’s vetoes:

-Dept. of finance – real property tax officer
-Personnel – Labor relations admin.
-Probation – Probation officer
-Sheriff-Intelligence – Conf. intell assistant
-Sheriff REACT Unit – operational supplies
-DA – printing supplies
-DGS facilities admin. – assistant director of facilities
-Hospital-corrections – Head nurse
-Hospital-patient services admin. – admin. secretary
-Contingency – $7,965 deduction