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 29th, 2012

Speak Out at Budget Hearings

The Sullivan County Legislature will be holding numerous meetings during the next several weeks relating to the proposed county budget and it is crucial that property owners attend and ask some serious questions.

Taxpayers need to know where our money is going especially when it comes to discretionary spending. What are we funding that is not mandated and what are the actual breakdown of these costs? Just because something is mandated doesn’t mean we cannot cut costs and do it cheaper.

Without a doubt the legislature had no alternative but to lift the NYS mandated 2 percent property tax cap, but County Manager David Fanslau’s preliminary budget calling for a 13.77 percent property tax hike is horrifying for a government that is sinking deeper and deeper into a hole.

The best we got from Fanslau in a recent press release was that he was able to reduce the proposed increase from 39 percent to 13.77 percent.

Fanslau said in the press release announcing the preliminary budget “if I had simply funded 2013 budget requests with the information available in July, then there would have been a need for a 39% increase to the property tax levy. After many hours of refining the 2013 tentative budget, cutting expenses where it made sense, and was supportable, and conservatively anticipating revenues for 2013, the proposed budget levy increase has been cut by two-thirds for a projected property tax levy increase from 39.28% to 13.77%.”

What is extremely bothersome is that our former legislature allowed Fanslau to raid our reserves to the tune of $7 million. We are now left minus $7 million while facing this mammoth tax increase.

Legislators Jonathan Rouis, Alan Sorensen, and Kathleen LaBuda were all members of the old legislature. Rouis, the former chairman, heads the budget committee.

There are those who are saying this legislature should not be held accountable for this budget because it is their first term, but that is bunk. They became responsible from day one. It should have been Fanslau’s obligation to inform them of budget details months ago and that did not happen.

I am certain after all the public meetings, and there is an indebt review of the budget, the legislature will somehow shave a few points. It will be pointed out endlessly that the tax hike only entails 20 percent of our total tax bill and that it will cost the average homeowner under two hundred dollars. This tax increase will be like getting blood from a stone for a lot of people.

In reality, county government is operating at its nucleus, and mandates are crushing us to death. We simply cannot cut services or layoff our workforce, but one has to wonder what will happen in 2014. Things do not appear to be getting any better in Sullivan County.

The sad reality is that people are fleeing because they simply cannot afford to live here. On the other hand, those on public assistance are moving in because it is cheaper for them to live in Sullivan County than other parts of New York State. What does that mean for us? More mandated expenses and higher taxes, that’s what.

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