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Lightfoot warns Morristown of future cuts

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MORRISTOWN – St. Lawrence County Legislator Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg, warned village officials Tuesday that deep cuts are on the way as the county moves forward with budget deliberations.

“We’re in a tough spot,” said Mr. Lightfoot.

He said he believes the property tax rate will be raised by nearly 19 percent.

Mr. Lightfoot spoke after Mayor Cheryl Shatraw questioned the county’s decision to hire the Wladis Law Firm based in Syracuse to act as lobbyist for the county in Albany.

“We cut patrolmen but pay $5,000 [a month] for a lobbyist?” she asked.

“I can’t believe it either,” said Mr. Lightfoot.

He suspects the lobbyist firm was brought on to help the county get home rule legislation passed in the Senate. This would enable the county to raise its 3 percent sales tax.

“That’s what we have elected representatives for,” he said.

He said he voted against the decision to hire the lobbyist firm.

Mr. Lightfoot said the Sheriff’s Department is “low-hanging fruit” when it comes to cuts because the department’s duties are not mandated by the state.

That’s why discussions are being held about cutting patrolmen, even as the county plans on taking on a lobbyist.

“Personally I’m against cutting the Sheriff’s road patrol, but if push comes to shove I’d vote to cut it,” he said.

He said state police could help fill in the void.

“The Democrats are playing a lot of politics,” Mr. Lightfoot said of the county Legislature’s majority party.

He said the Democratis majority has not seriously looked at making significant cuts in the county budget.

The village of Morristown does not have a local police force, and relies on the Sheriff’s Department and state police for law enforcement.

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