Haff: County will
override tax cap
By Matthew Saari
With the passage of two resolutions providing county employees pay raises, the Washington County Board of Supervisors is set to override the tax cap this year.
And it’s only February.
Hartford supervisor Dana Haff sounded the alarm at a board meeting Friday in Fort Edward.
“By adopting these we will now acknowledge that in the 2019 budget we will exceed the tax cap,” he said. “Payroll is a very large part of our budget.”
None of the supervisors present questioned this and both resolutions were passed in short order.
One resolution provided a 2.32 percent annual increase to county employees enrolled in the Civil Service Employees Association, a labor union consisting of workers in the Departments of Social Services, Motor Vehicles, Information Technology, Department of Public Works supervisors and Probation.
The other resolution provided a 2.49 percent annual increase to the Correction Officers’ Association, a labor union for county corrections officers.
“So already, without buying a box of number two pencils you break the tax cap,” Haff said. “Usually we don’t think we’re going to exceed the tax cap until September.”
In an interview Monday, Haff said this year’s tax cap for the county will be 1.9 percent.
Haff said further pay raises were likely to follow, out of solidarity.
“I doubt that those supervisors that supported Dan Shaw of Easton for county budget officer would have done so if his platform was to override the tax cap,” said Haff. “Payroll is a huge part of the county budget, well over 80 percent, and by accepting the labor unions’ settlement which is a payroll increase above the tax cap, you will bust it just by that alone once you figure in parity for the other non-union workers.”
Haff clarified that he isn’t against giving pay raises to government employees but those responsible for deciding the pay increases need to first examine if such increases are fiscally feasible.
“My premise is you should only pay what you can afford,” he said. “Many citizens are tapped out now regarding their property taxes but that does not seem to bother a lot of supervisors.”