Comptroller criticizes planned cuts to his office
Elliott Auerbach says County Executive Michael Hein's 2017 budget would have a devastating effect.
Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach says County Executive Michael Hein’s proposed 2017 county budget would “decimate” the comptroller’s office by cutting nearly 25 percent of its budget.
Hein responded that the 25 percent cut to Auerbach’s office is nothing more than belt tightening. His total proposed budget, however, would cut county spending by less than 2 percent.
Auerbach, a Democrat like Hein, said the proposed budget cut probably would eliminate two of the seven employees in his office, which is a watchdog of county spending and programs. The county comptroller is elected by voters.
“A raid of this size on my office would critically limit our ability to monitor county dollars and assess government practices,” Auerbach said. “Our charge is to ensure that every dime and every dollar of the taxpayer’s money and the county’s money is well-spent. Creating this independent oversight, this check to every balance, so to speak, has been invaluable over the course of the past eight years.”
Hein said no elected official “should be above tightening their belt” and that the sheriff, county clerk, Legislature and his own office have done just that.
The executive noted the county property tax levy for 2017 will be lower than it was in 2010.
Hein said the executive branch has cut spending by more than $35 million over the past five years and that $695,000 is “a lot of taxpayer money for the comptroller to do his job.”
County Legislature Minority Leader Hector Rodriguez, D-New Paltz, said the county is facing financial issues that place the entire government in the same boat.
“Whether that’s Elliott (Auerbach) or the sheriff, we are cutting the sheriff’s department, too, and we are cutting some stuff out of Legislature, so we are all working collectively to try to have money, and I don’t think we should ever give in to hyperbole,” Rodriguez said.