Herkimer County budget proposal plans

By this time next month Herkimer County will have a tentative budget proposal.

"We have the tentative budget submitted to the legislature by Nov. 15, so that will be the tentative budget," said Herkimer County administrator Jim Wallace. "We have a public hearing on the full budget on Dec. 13, then the legislature votes on the full budget on that same night, Dec. 13."

One of the main things Wallace said will receive funding is Herkimer County's foster care system.

"We've seen an increase in foster care kids about 38 percent," Wallace said. "Then the state in its infinite wisdom cut us 200,000 dollars, so that's an issue for us."

The rise in children in the foster care system is largely attributed to the opioid epidemic.

"The parents are having the addiction, they're either going to jail or they're going to treatment, and in that process they're losing their child for a while. So we're seeing a 38 percent increase in foster care kids because of that problem," Wallace said.

The budget will also have to include funding for the board of elections, an issue Wallace said he deals with every year.

"A lot of that is attributable to the state and feds having two separate primaries, he said. "So we get about five to ten percent of the people to come out and vote, but we'll have a primary for the federal elections and then we'll have a primary for the state elections."

Wallace said turning the two elections into one is a way to save money for the county. He also said the board is looking into saving Herkimer County millions by consolidating certain departments.

"We have five separate committees, a couple of them that really seem - there's a real chance for saving money - is our health insurance committee...and also our road," he said. "Herkimer County probably has the biggest highway system in New York State per capita."

And as for when the plans for consolidation will be complete, Wallace estimates by next August.

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