To convey the message of the need for sound fiscal decisions on the county level, I have advocated that all bond requests with resulting debt service payments include a summary and cover memo detailing the impacts on the county budget and tax levy. This will result in a more thorough review of the county’s ability to pay and resulting burden on the taxpayer.
My efforts are a result of the recent decision to bond $9.5 million in capital improvements prior to a thorough discussion of the full impacts on the county operating budget and tax levy, lack of identifying priorities for funding, and lack of analysis of retiring debt.
Future bonding for a proposed approximately $75-million jail facility will bring more borrowing and must be reduced to a more affordable design. In my analysis of numerous jail projects, it is imperative that the county put in mechanisms of oversight to include carefully drafted contracts capping compensation with penalty clauses to prevent project overruns, line-by-line budget overseen by project manager working for the best interests of the county, and caution [concerning] vague promises of millions in projected annual savings with a new costly facility. While a jail project is imminent, a resulting near double-digit tax increase is not affordable. With careful fiscal constraints, an alternative less costly design can be realized in a more fiscally responsible way.
Cindy Kurpil Gieger
Sullivan County Legislator, District 5