HUDSON–By a nearly unanimous vote the county Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution last week to borrow an additional $12.5 million to fund needed services. The decision will bring the total county debt to $47.7 million, and does not include funding for construction of the new Pine Haven Nursing Home.
Only Gallatin Supervisor Tom Garrick (R) voted against the measure at the board’s September 11 meeting. Asked by email about his vote, Mr. Garrick responded, “I stand on principle.”
The vote was prefaced by a presentation from county Controller Ronald Caponera, who recapped expenses and explained that funding is required for several line items. The county’s emergency communications infrastructure requires $7 million to support upgrades for public safety, including new radios, microwave towers and to secure additional frequencies. Repairs to bridges and roads, including $1.2 for highway paving, will total $3.7 million; $1.2 million is needed to pay for architectural drawings for Pine Haven; and $600,000 is required by the county Department of Public Works to purchase heavy equipment for the highway department.
The funding also comes with substantial increases in interest charges, and municipal borrowing rates currently are 4.23%.
Additional borrowing to fund Pine Haven is estimated at $43 million, and while that debt will be borne by the nursing home, it is backed by the full faith and credit of the county.
In a telephone interview after the meeting, Ancram Supervisor Arthur Bassin (D), said, “If these expenditures are important, then we must identify less important things and stop doing them so we can set priorities. This kind of commitment to investment will require that we either cut back in other places or raise taxes. We cannot keep going in the way we are operating.”
In a separate action last week, the board voted to lend $1.5 million to Pine Haven for its operating budget.
In a follow-up phone conversation Controller Caponera confirmed said the annual debt service on the county’s $47.7 million debt is $1.6 million annually and will increase to $2.4 million in 2014. He also reiterated that Pine Haven is a separate entity and its expenses are largely reimbursable by the state, so technically, its debt is not carried on the county’s books.