Mazziotti said he would not initiate a motion but told Osborne: “I will remember this when it comes time to vote for the next chairman.” He was applauded.
Mazziotti also got into a brief argument with Dougherty, after interrupting him.
The county executive unsuccessfully asked commissioners for more time to determine priorities before cutting the budget. “You don’t snap your fingers and cut $5 million. It will take the entire year. I will reduce county spending over the course of the next 12 months.”
Hansell said commissioners supporting the budget are not looking at spending needs or a spending plan. “Under any definition of sound financial management, that’s not what you do.”
Said Schware: “For 2013, our budget is $5 million better than the executive’s budget because of the spending cuts." Schware said the county has failed to control spending for several years. He said if commissioners would go along with the version of the 2013 budget proposed by the county administration, which contained no spending cuts, there would be “guaranteed” tax hikes in 2014 and 2015.
Dougherty said the county currently faces a $7.6 million budget deficit. “I do not see how we can cut taxes and not end up with even a larger deficit.”
Scheller said: “If you already have a deficit, the last thing you really want to do is increase spending.”
Said Dougherty: “If you have a deficit, how are you going to give away more money?” He said reducing taxes when the county faces a $7.6 million deficit “is pandering to the public.”
But Mazziotti said the county ends up with multi-million dollar budget surpluses at the end of every year. Ott suggested those surpluses may mean no personnel cuts will be needed.
Schware said $6.5 million is the amount that was overtaxed from the taxpayers in previous years. He was loudly applauded when he said: “Returning that money is not pandering to the taxpayers. It’s giving back the money that was taken from them.”
Said Dougherty: “Tell them that in 2015 when there’s a 3-mill tax increase.”
The budget debate began at 8:30, about one hour into the commissioners meeting, and continued until about 11:14 p.m.
For more than an hour, 21 residents addressed the board. Then county officials got their turn to speak. They included President Judge Carol McGinley, Judge Kelly Banach, District Attorney James Martin, Chief Deputy Public Defender Earl Supplee and Hansell.
Most of those officials re-emphasized points made at the Oct. 10 commissioners meeting: that cutting taxes will weaken county law enforcement and the judicial system.
Ott interrupted as Banach read a lengthy statement detailing the personnel impacts of the proposed cuts. Ott said everything Banach was saying is based on speculation about what the county executive might choose to do with personnel. “The purpose of this whole process is that the county executive will make those choices,” he said.
Countered Osborne: “I would like to give the judiciary the courtesy to continue with the impact this legislation might have.”
“The proposed cuts will have serious consequences,” said Banach. “We who work within the criminal justice system recognize that public safety and public services will be negatively impacted.”
McGinley accused commissioners who supported the budget of “a callous indifference to the needs of the justice system and the public it serves.”
“Cuts have consequences,” said McGinley. “The consequences will be terminations, unfilled necessary positions and the system taking more time to do more things. It means more people committed to prison for longer for periods of time while we process their cases. It means every other case which is not a criminal case gets shoved to the back of the line. We will have to give our priority to criminal cases.”
Said Martin: “If you cut jobs, you’re going to cut services. If you cut services in the criminal justice system, it’s going to risk an adverse impact on public safety.”