Duo hits Hein’s office budget
Payroll, postage spending would be cut in Democrats’ proposal
Two county lawmakers have amped up their battle with Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, proposing amendments to the executive’s proposed 2017 spending plan that would reduce funding to his office.
Legislators David Donaldson and John Parete introduced budget amendments that would cut the administration’s payroll by $210,774 and spending for postage by $16,040.
The amendments were among a dozen that overall would increase spending to the executive’s proposed $325 million spending by $283,776. Of the 12 amendments, seven would increase spend-
ing by $744,590, while five would reduce spending by $460,814.
The two Democrats are often at odds with Hein over a variety of issues, including, most recently, a proposal to move the county Family Court facility out of the city of Kingston.
The cut to postage is in direct response to a mailing sent out by the administration days before Election Day, urging people to vote on the referendum.
and Parete, D-Boiceville, decried the mailing as a misappropriation of funds. Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright said there was nothing criminal about the mass mailing.
On Tuesday, Donaldson said he cut funding for the postage line because “we’re not going to have another ballot initiative that they can unscrupulously campaign for.”
He said the proposed reduction is equal to what the administration said the mailing cost was on the referendum.
Donaldson said the executive has filled the departments throughout his administration with people who serve at the pleasure of the executive and whose job is to control information and “stay on message, regardless of accuracy.”
“He claims he has seven employees,” said Donaldson. The reality is he has a lot more, but they’re buried in departments as deputies and deputies to the deputies.”
Donaldson said that as a percentage of the overall budget, the administration’s payroll is 0.32 percent, higher than that of Westchester County, which has a $1.8 billion budget, and of Orange County, which has a $722.1 million
budget. As a percentage of the overall budget, the administration’s payroll spending is less than that of Dutchess County, which has a $458.7 million spending plan, and Putnam County, which has a $151.5 million budget.
Donaldson said he doubts if the resolutions will pass, but said he hopes they will make other lawmakers think about the Legislature’s role. “I believe the legislative body is no longer a branch of government, it’s more like a department. Too many legislators are sticking their heads in the sand.
“We are an equal branch
of government, and my take is he’s overspending in his area,” Donaldson said.
Donaldson also joined with a number of other lawmakers to sponsor an amendment to restore $550,000 to the county comptroller’s budget that was cut by Hein. Comptroller Elliott Auerbach said he was the only elected official to have his budget cut by the county executive; Hein’s office has said Auerbach was the only elected official not to submit a budget that projected lower spending than the year before.
Other proposed amendments reflect the priorities
of specific lawmakers who proposed increases to funding for some programs and decreases to others.
Parete has proposed adding $20,000 to the budget for a housing study, while Saugerties legislators Chris Allen and Mary Wawro proposed adding $5,000 to fund a summer camp in Saugerties.
Carnright, meanwhile, has asked for an additional $91,290 for an additional investigator in his office.
The Ways and Means Committee will meet at 3 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 5, to take up the proposed budget amendments.