OTSEGO COUNTY, NY (WUTR-TV) — The covid-19 pandemic is financially hurting local municipalities, including Otsego County.
“This hits us harder than it does with many other counties,” says David Bliss, Chairman of Otsego County Board of Representatives. Otsego County relys heavily on their sales tax and bed tax. “We just got our latest sales tax figures yesterday, they’re down 33%, that’s a huge hit to us.”
Otsego County has the lowest tax per capita in New York state. “We can actually raise your taxes by 47%, and we would still be the lowest tax county in the state,” says Bliss. Without exact figures, the county has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
County officials have discussed for over two years whether or not to implement a county administrator role. It passed by the board in December 2019. Since the pandemic, the position is put on hold. “We have a hiring freeze across the county, now more than ever we need one during this crisis – having a county administrator would have been a great help to all of us, the board, myself in particular because all of that falls down onto me as a part-time county representative,” says Bliss.
$75,000 was allotted for a County Administrator role in the 2020 budget. Bliss says the funding would cover half a year’s salary and benefits for the position. “…Sometimes knowing things that you need to do, like hiring an administrator is difficult to get through — it wasn’t a unanimous vote, but this will force us to do some of the things that we know we needed to do, but we couldn’t get the votes for in the past,” Bliss says.