MONTICELLO, NY — Weeks of debate and presentations and hearings are over. The county’s $235 million budget has passed, 8-1; legislator Joe Perrello provided the dissenting vote. He argued …
MONTICELLO, NY — Weeks of debate and presentations and hearings are over. The county’s $235 million budget has passed, 8-1; legislator Joe Perrello provided the dissenting vote. He argued for more money for road repairs.
The approved budget isn’t up on the county website as of this writing, but here’s what we know:
• The tentative budget saw a tax levy of 2.24 percent, which is under the tax cap, resulting in an annual increase of $26 per $100,000 in assessed property value.
• There’s $3.75 million in bonding for road repairs and $875,000 for bridge repair.
• MOVE Sullivan gets $410,000.
• An unspecified list of community groups will split $200,000.
• $100,000 will help towns and villages demolish unsafe structures.
• $130,000 was put toward the broadband project (a tower each in Monticello and Liberty), in which grant funding is also involved.
• $25,000 for Callicoon’s Riverside Park.
At the special meeting on December 10, as legislators discussed the budget, Perrello argued that $3.75 million toward road repairs wasn’t enough. He supported $4 million, pointing out that the county doesn’t yet know how much they’ll receive in CHIPS (Consolidated Street and Highway Improvement Program) funding from the state.
This sparked a lively discussion about the county’s bad roads, the CHIPS funds and chair Rob Doherty’s repeated point that this year’s road repair revenue of $9.25 million (with all funding sources and including the debatable CHIPS funds) is “still the largest asphalt buy we have ever done.”
Overall, legislators were supportive of the new budget, although the road bonds dominated the discussion.
Alan Sorensen said that creating a budget this year was challenging, “but with the refinements that we’ve made over the last couple of weeks, I’m comfortable with the budget.”
Ira Steingart said he supported the $4 million bond for roads, but the compromise was acceptable. He was concerned, though, that the funding allowed for the care center isn’t adequate, especially if a management company isn’t found.
Perrello stressed his support for the $4 million. “It’s about principle,” he said.
Luis Alvarez talked about the state of the roads and his worry that the stress over the situation at the care center was harming residents and staff.
“We need to bond the roads. I agree with the $4 million,” said Nadia Rajsz, adding her support for the care center and the need to make sure the certified home health agency stays county-managed.
“Having a chance to listen to the department heads... was an exercise well worth taking,” said Mike Brooks. “The numbers are fair. I’m not a big fan of bonding, because it’s debt, but I can live with that.”
“$3.75 million is a fair compromise,” said Nick Salomone. “Certain people want every program in the world and every tax cut in the world, and you can’t have it both ways.”
Chairman Rob Doherty cited an audit of the county that found they had “spent more than we have taken in over the last four years... you cannot put the county’s future on a credit card.”
In a statement, Brooks said, “We’ve been told to anticipate up to 20 percent cuts across all state aid revenue sources, so we need to be cautious... this budget—which drops the Solid Waste Access Fee for both residents and business owners—keeps [taxpayers] foremost in mind.”
Full details of the adopted budget will soon be made available on the county's website. Click on “Sullivan County 2021 Adopted Budget Executive Summary” and “Sullivan County 2021 Adopted Budget Detail.”