Comptroller crit­i­cizes planned cuts to his of­fice

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - Mid-Hud­son News Net­work

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.

Auer­bach

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