Essex County eyes 15 percent tax levy increase

ELIZABETHTOWN – The Essex County Board of Supervisors is set to hold a public hearing Monday night on the county’s proposed 2014 budget, which would override the state tax cap, increasing the tax levy by 15 percent.

The budget is the first step in a plan to decrease its tax levy increases over the next five years, county Manager Dan Palmer said Friday. In 2015, Palmer anticipates the levy increasing by 10 percent, then 8 percent the following year, then 5 percent. He expects the levy increase to be down to 2 percent by 2018.

As it stands now, the 2014 budget would include $94,917,464 in spending, a 0.09 percent decrease over the current year. Revenues are anticipated to grow by 1.74 percent, to $72,938,431.

Palmer explained that the tax levy would increase so dramatically despite revenue growing and spending shrinking because the county used $6.8 million in fund balance to reduce taxes this year.

“We don’t have it this year to put against it,” Palmer said.

County officials felt that the county could only afford to put $3 million from the fund balance toward lowering taxes in 2014.

The biggest drop in spending in the proposed 2014 budget is $2.9 million that won’t have to be spent on the county nursing home, which is being sold. The biggest increase in the proposed budget is the county’s health insurance costs, which are anticipated to increase by 15 percent.

The hearing is set to begin at 7 p.m. in the county Board of Supervisors’ Chambers at the Essex County Government Center in Elizabethtown.

The board will also hold a hearing at 9:15 a.m. Monday, Dec. 2, on a local law that would allow the board to override the tax cap. The override law would need a 60 percent majority of the board’s vote to pass.

Copies of the budget are available at the board clerk’s office in Elizabethtown.

The board has set a special meeting for 9 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, to possibly make changes to and consider passing the budget.

Contact Jessica Collier at 518-891-2600 ext. 26 or