Public absent at Saratoga County budget hearing
BALLSTON SPA The proposed 2013 Saratoga County budget appears to be headed for approval, after a public hearing Monday in Ballston Spa attracted zero members of the public.
It was widely anticipated that some employees and family members would want to speak about the county’s controversial plan to sell its Maplewood Manor infirmary, but none did.
People talking about the infirmary situation dominated a two-hour public comment period at the Nov. 20 county board meeting, at which the board took an initial step toward selling.
“Maybe all the emotion was spent at that meeting,” said Law and Finance Committee Chairman Alan R. Grattidge, R-Charlton, who ran Monday’s public hearing. “That was an emotional meeting.”
The proposed $300.5 million budget will be voted on at a special Board of Supervisors meeting Dec. 12.
The proposal includes a 1.6 percent property tax increase, trimmed from a 2.5 percent increase in the original draft budget.
The average countywide tax rate will be $2.27 per $1,000 assessed value, up by 4 cents from this year.
The proposed budget assumes the county will receive $6 million in new revenue through a local development corporation, by borrowing against the future sales price of the infirmary.
The 277-bed facility loses $8 million to $10 million each year, and county officials have said property taxes will have to increase 20 percent if it isn’t sold.
“The county simply cannot continue to sustain those kinds of losses,” board Chairman Thomas N. Wood III said last week.
The proposed budget also contains $4 million in new revenue from the anticipated sale or lease of the unused county landfill, which would be taken over by a private landfill operator.
The county has received proposals from three potential buyers, and continues to negotiate with all three.
If the budget is approved, 2013 would be the second year in a row that county property taxes have risen. Before that, the tax rate had not increased in several years.
The bill for a $250,000 house would be $567.50.