Crowell offered two options — dedicating 16.7 percent of the total budget to the fund, or 15 percent. The latter option would decrease the amount of cuts that would have to be made, while the former option would provide the county with a stronger financial safety net.
The representatives did not reach a consensus on that option. Kosmer said he preferred taking the 15 percent option to spare cuts to services and jobs.
Board of Representatives Chairwoman Kathleen Clark, R-Otego, said later that she believes the board will seek to stay within the state-imposed 2 percent tax cap when it adopts a final budget. She said she sees no support for raising taxes beyond that, noting that many residents are already struggling to pay their property tax bills and the county auctioned off 55 tax-delinquent properties earlier this year.
“We have to make decisions on what we can and cannot do,” Clark said. “People are elected to make tough choices, and people will be targeted for the choices they make. This board, to its credit, is grappling with some of the tough issues that in the past hadn’t been dealt with.”
Clark said she favors sticking with putting 16.7 of the budget into the reserve fund.
The board has already reached consensus in reducing its appropriation to the Cornell Cooperative Extension Service from $175,000 to $125,000.
The board has also decided to cut five unfilled positions at the nursing home and take away funding for one job at the highway department that was left vacant through a retirement.