Some good news for Ulster County taxpayers as Executive Mike Hein unveils his early budget for 2014. But with the unresolved one percent sales tax extension, the county is ready to begin spending cuts if necessary. YNN’s Alexandra Weishaupt has more on the proposed plans in place.
KINGSTON, N.Y. -- Historic government spending cuts are in store to the tune of $23.7 million. It’s the largest reduction ever, according to Ulster County executive Mike Hein.
“That fact in it of itself seems almost impossible, more services for less money, but it’s been done,” said Hein.
It’s an early release highlighting a zero percent tax increase for residents, protecting critical not-for-profit programs, the Sheriff’s office from layoffs and Ulster County Community College from cuts.
“We have been able to design a strategy for all of us this without any layoffs, for now,” said Hein. “But the people of Ulster County are still exposed to a major unnecessary danger and so our work is far from done.”
Hein is referring to the unresolved one percent sales tax extension blocked by Assemblyman Kevin Cahill. Due to this, there could be some heavy impacts felt by area residents as the executive budget also includes the possibility of midyear spending cuts to make up for the potential revenue losses.
“If it continue and more dollars are lost, we will then bring forth a package of massive budget cuts and there will be significant layoffs at that point to be able to address the $22 million in lost revenue,” said Hein.
Each day past February 1st that the sales tax is not restored, county leaders say more and more cuts will be introduced to keep the budget in balance.
“That is where your pain is,” said Ulster County Budget Director JJ Hanson. “Those are your contract agencies, part time and over time for the Sheriff’s department, that is mental health social service contracts, other areas of the county budget that if he does not do what he says he’s going to do, there will be real and meaningful cuts.”
According to Hein, Cahill has promised to lift his block to one percent sales tax for another two years. But if the issue is not addressed this year or in January 2014, the budget cuts will begin February 1st.
In response to Hein, Assemblyman Kevin Cahill released a statement Thursday afternoon reading in part, "I forgive Mr. Hein for his immaturity in acting out for not exactly getting his way.”