County Executive Dan Onorato presented his 2012 budget to County Council Tuesday evening, with $37.2 million less budgeted than the adopted 2011 fiscal plan. Onorato's $730 million budget features cuts to human services, including a $19.3 million cut to the Department of Human Services.
The budget, if adopted as is, will be handed off to another county executive to oversee. Rich Fitzgerald is the Democratic candidate for the office. He said that even at the cost of human services, some of the proposed cuts can't be avoided.
"I am concerned about some of the state cutbacks that we really have no control over. Dan doesn't have any control over it, County Council doesn't have any control over it, and it's certainly having an adverse effect on the human services that we provide," Fitzgerald said.
Onorato's budget avoids raising property taxes, something he's managed to do during his two terms. That is a trend Fitzgerald would like to continue.
"We haven't raised property taxes ten years in a row, and that's been terrific for our region and for our property owners," Fitzgerald said, "we don't want the burden shifted to state taxes to local county taxes, property taxes, so we need to keep looking at that."
Fitzgerald said there is no easy answer to generating local revenue while avoiding raising property taxes, but added the county must examine where its revenue sources are and how it can streamline its expenditures.
In a statement, the Republican challenger in the county executive race, D. Raja, says that he appreciates that Onorato held the line on property taxes and found ways to reduce county spending, "but this whole situation is indicative of the way Fitzgerald and Onorato have kicked the can down the road on reforming spending and fixing property taxes in the county."