During her October 1 address laying out the county’s 2016 budget, Putnam County Executive Maryellen Odell expressed her belief that local leadership was doing everything in its power to keep costs in line despite outside pressures. “We are sick and tired of having to foot the bill for Albany and its lack of oversight and accountability and New York City’s needs,” said Odell. The pressure is clearly on Putnam and neighboring counties to find ways to grapple with the huge state mandates while providing needed services on the remaining dollars.
County leadership seems to have struck a reasonable balance – the 4 percent increase in the budget is largely offset by spending some of Putnam’s surplus, allowing for an average rise of only $4 per taxpayer. This will be helpful to business for several reasons. First, as local homeowners/taxpayers themselves, business owners will have one less thing to worry about despite impending cost increases in other areas such as minimum wage, health care and other regulatory effects. For another, their prospective customers will likely have more disposable cash on hand than might have otherwise been expected, offering hope that it will be spent locally and foster business growth.
The complex relationship between the 2% tax cap and huge unfunded state mandates continues to challenge local government leaders to pinch pennies wherever possible, making it harder for the county to invest in local economic development. The best we can hope for is to keep the regulatory environment under control and give businesses a chance to thrive on their own. “The budget we are putting together is firm but fair,” said the County Executive. “It is fair to our residents, to our employees, the outside agencies and most importantly to the taxpayers.”
It’s not perfect, but the budget is the best our business community can ask for given the circumstances.
-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce