Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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November 12th, 2010

Balancing a budget during a fiscal crisis

Sullivan County is in a budget crisis and the legislature will soon be confronting this harsh reality as they present us with the 2011 budget.

The tension at the government center has been high for weeks, and there has been extensive lobbying to prevent layoffs, higher taxes, and cuts in services.

It is refreshing that County Manager David Fanslau’s proposed budget has no tax increases or layoffs.

Fanslau has developed what he calls a “user friendly budget” that has him realigning staff and management to meet fiduciary responsibilities.

Sullivan County has been notorious for spending a lot of money on outsourcing. Fanslau along with Legislature Chairman Jonathan Rouis are finally doing something about it. As a start, Real Property Tax Services Director Linda Levine will assume the new role of Director of Human Resources, and will work directly under Fanslau.

Levine will oversee two separate lines, headed by Employee Relations, and Civil Service. Utilizing her law degree, the county will save money by reducing the need for outside legal services.

Other changes are also in the works, such as staffing snow removal trucks with one employee.

As the budget is announced, we must keep in mind that much of our financial woes are due to social service programs and state mandates. According to recent statistics we are amongst the top in the state with high poverty levels and unemployment rates.

We are in dire need of economic development. Sadly, our dream for casino gaming to resurrect Sullivan County as a tourist destination is quickly fading.

Throughout his gubernatorial campaign Andrew Cuomo made the 10,521 governments in New York State an issue. Sullivan County’s huge government is no exception. There needs to be consolidation between our towns and villages, and other municipal agencies throughout the county to cut costs.

County officials need to sit down with all of our Town Supervisors and work together to consolidate.

There also needs to be a user friendly atmosphere at the government center between all elected officials. Political infighting must cease.

Legislators along with Fanslau and his staff must also include County Treasurer Ira Cohen into the budget process. They need to utilize his services and expertise for direction. We also need an accurate cash flow management plan.

During this budget cycle we can look forward to a great deal of political grandstanding coming from legislators and others. This will be the last budget before the entire legislature is up for election.

The days and weeks ahead will certainly be unpleasant and painful. If all our elected officials would concentrate more on doing something concrete and less on rhetoric, perhaps something positive for our long term can be accomplished. I am glad that Fanslau and Rouis want to take us in that direction.

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