MAYVILLE - After Democrats proposed 13 changes to the 2011 budget Wednesday, Republicans invited the department heads whose budgets would be affected to the microphone.
First and only up to speak was Steve Wickmark, Department of Social Services commissioner, who pointed out that he had not seen the proposed changes.
"I would be unable to stand here this evening to respond to what those amendments might do as far as impacting services to clients and contract agencies," Wickmark said. "I'd be happy to listen to what they are. I'd appreciate the opportunity to meet with the legislature and respond to specific questions and give summary of what the specific proposals would mean to the county."
Mary Ann Spanos, Office of the Aging director, and Sheriff Joe Gerace were lined up ready to speak behind Wickmark, but legislators thought it smarter to adjourn the meeting to give everyone time to review the proposed changes.
Three of the 13 proposed budget changes include cutting each Youth Bureau's and Office of the Aging's local shares in half and reducing $50,000 in staff and benefits from the Sheriff's Office.
After the meeting, Gerace responded to the proposed cut to his department - saying that it would be devastating to public safety.
"We've already been cut $1.4 million, not just the $246,875 cut (by Audit and Control)," Gerace said. "So this would be devastating to public safety.
"I have a duty to provide as conservator of the peace," Gerace continued. "If someone's calling for help. If they're being assaulted. If they're being murdered. If they're being victimized in some way. So this is really going to have a huge impact, a negative impact on public safety. This is a huge enough cut that it would mean many people being laid off and that would be very unfortunate, not advisable."
During discussion, Legislator George Borrello, R-Irving, pointed out that people want certain services for the taxes they pay.
"Through this whole process I've had to ask myself a question," Borrello said. "What do people really expect for their county tax dollars? What do they expect? They expect that the roads are going to be plowed, the potholes are going to be filled and that when they call 911, somebody shows up. That's about it."
Borrello continued on to say that the County Legislature should take the coming week to research the cuts, not do anything "willy nilly."
The full legislature will meet again at 6:30 p.m. next Wednesday in the Gerace Office Building.