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Rust voices displeasure over county’s plans

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HOPKINTON - When supervisors from around the county meet on Thursday, Hopkinton Town Supervisor Marvin E. Rust will among those voicing his displeasure with two ways the county is trying to reduce its budget deficit.

Mr. Rust said he received a letter from Brasher Town Supervisor M. James Dawson Jr. inviting him to Thursday’s meeting where they’ll discuss the county’s plan to reduce plowing contracts by 25 percent, as well as reduce the amount of sales tax revenue they share with the county’s towns and villages.

“That’s going to be a vocal meeting,” Mr. Rust said.

Referring to the sales tax issue, Mr. Rust said, “The county wants to take away 1 percent from us and keep it.”

Under a 2009 agreement with the city of Ogdensburg, which has the option of imposing its own tax, the county keeps half of its 3 percent sales tax. Ogdensburg receives 6.44 percent and the balance is divided among the towns and villages, based 50 percent on population and 50 percent on assessed value.

If the county were to keep half a percent more of the town and village share, that would amount to $7 million. The remaining shortfall of $1.6 million in thre county’s initial budget deficit would amount to an approximately 3 percent tax levy increase, which would fall under the county’s tax cap limit, County Administrator Karen M. St. Hilaire said last week.

Budget Officer Vickie L. French, who also serves as town clerk, noted the town relies heavily on sales tax revenue.

According to the town’s tentative budget, Hopkinton is planning to use $123,000 in sales tax revenue to support its general fund and another $123,875 in sales tax revenue to support its highway budget. Those figures equate to 32.8 percent of its general fund revenue and 16.7 percent of its highway department revenue.

“We actually bumped up our sales tax revenue, because we got more than we expected this year,” she said. “But that was before we heard what the county might be doing.”

Ms. French noted that as a part of a tentative budget, those projections could change before their budget is ultimately adopted.

Mr. Rust also took issue with the county’s plan to reduce plowing contracts.

“With the price of fuel and everything, I don’t think so,” he said. “They better be careful or they’ll have their entire snow plowing operation back in their lap.”

He even went as far as saying he would like to see the size of the plowing contracts increase this year.

“With the fuel increases, if anything, this should be the year they up, but go down, I don’t think so,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned if they want to drop it 25 percent they can plow their own roads.”

The\county’s supervisors will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Best Western in Canton. The St. Lawrence County Mayor’s Association will be meeting at that same hour Thursday at the Massena Country Club.

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