The Legislature next faces the enormous task of formulating and approving a budget for 2011. As Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, I am charged with the task of overseeing and developing a budget that holds the line on spending, and if possible, reduces county property taxes.
In my capacity as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, it is my intention to make whatever spending cuts are necessary to deliver a budget with no property tax increase. This will be an extremely difficult task, given our current financial situation, and will require a significant reduction in County government staffing and/or services. County government can not continue to provide its current level of services without a significant increase in real property tax rates, or the infusion of significant funds from other levels of government. The time has come that we, as a community, must decide on whether County government should continue to provide the same level and scope of services -- and pay much more in real property taxes -- or whether we should redefine the role of County government and significantly reduce the size and scope of that government and the services that it provides. County government cannot "be everything for everybody" without a significant cost to the taxpayers.
It is my belief that the role County government plays in our lives needs to decrease steadily so that definite savings can be realized and property taxes can be reduced.
With that as our goal, the hard work is ahead for the department heads, the Executive's office and the Legislature to close our budget deficit and cut taxes. My hope is that we can come to a bi-partisan agreement that ensures County government remains fiscally sound and continues to strive towards finding new ways to reduce spending.
I urge all residents to contact their county legislators to express their views and opinions. This is your county; tell us how you would like it to be run.