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Dan Crowell

CROWELL: In September, Budget Is Always Out Of Balance; By Year’s End, Balanced
LETTER from DAN CROWELL

In September, Budget Is

Always Out Of Balance;

By Year’s End, Balanced

To the Editor:

I hope all is well in our hometown!

Dan Crowell

I saw your article (“Treasurer Warns Of Overages, But Chair Unruffled,” Sept. 20 on www.All- OTSEGO.com) on the budget gap. For what it is worth, in some ways the county treasurer and county board chair’s perspectives are portrayed as divergent. However, from my experience, they are both right.

There is no black magic that can resolve the gap (treasurer), but it is not time to panic (chair).

For the eight years I was engaged in the budget process, there was typically a gap at this time of year, ranging between $2 million to $12 million depending on the year.

September, October and November are busy months with methodical and detailed review, reduction and adjustment, ideally in deep consultation with the departmental leadership.

There is no magic and there is no silver bullet expenditure to cut.

It is a compilation of scrutiny on hundreds of line items across the spectrum of operations and magnitude of cost.

They have good people on both sides of the aisle working on it and I am sure they will address the gap.

DAN CROWELL

A former county treasurer, Crowell is deployed
to Somalia with the
Army Reserves.

COPTERS BIG HIT AS 50 TURN OUT

BLACK HAWKS IN COOPERSTOWN

COPTERS BIG HIT

AS 50 TURN OUT

Churning up fresh-fallen snow, one of the four Blackhawk helicopters from the National Guard that visited Cooperstown this afternoon lands at the Bassett Helipad.
Paul Crowell of Fly Creek (in green parka), whose dad, Maj. Dan Crowell, the retired county treasurer, was an organizer of today’s maneuvers, listens attentively to Capt. John Delsignore briefs a crowd of 50 on the Blackhawks during a pause in this afternoon’s maneuvers. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Ruffles Declares Run For County Treasurer

HE AIMS TO SUCCEED CROWELL

Ruffles Declares Run

For County Treasurer

Edmeston native Allen Ruffles, second from left, listens to state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, declare support for the deputy treasurer’s candidacy for the top job. At right is Treasurer Dan Crowell, who is supporting Ruffles. At right is the candidates family, wife Amy and children Mia and Cooper.

COOPERSTOWN – Citing his experience as deputy county treasurer, Allen Ruffles – raised in Edmeston, now living in Cooperstown – today officially announced his candidacy for Otsego County treasurer.

With wife Amy and their two children, Mia and Cooper, by his side, and flanked by the county’s top elected Republican, state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, and top elected Democrat, current County Treasurer Dan Crowell, Ruffles made the announcement in front of several family, friends and supporters at noon in front of the County Office Building.

“Throughout my life, commitment and dedication have been very important to me. As a teacher, youth coach, financial adviser, bank manager, member of the Army Reserves and now as your deputy county treasurer, these principles have always driven my desire to serve and give back to a community that has given so much to me,” Ruffles said during his announcement.

County Treasurer Crowell Says He Won’t Run Again

County Treasurer Crowell

Says He Won’t Run Again

Dan Crowell

COOPERSTOWN – County Treasurer Dan Crowell has announced he won’t seek a third term, and will be “whole-heartedly” supporting his deputy, Allen Ruffles, former Key Bank branch manager, for the the job.

Crowell said he is considering career options both in the military – he is a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve – and the private sector.

Crowell issued this announcement at 12:51 this afternoon:

With Help Of Reserves, County ’17 Budget Even

PROPOSAL SUBMITTED ON DEADLINE

Drawing On Surplus,

County ’17 Budget Even

With a smile, County Treasurer Dan Crowell holds up the preliminary 2017 county budget that he submitted Tuesday, a day ahead of the requirement, to Clerk of the Board Carol McGovern. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
With a smile, County Treasurer Dan Crowell holds up the preliminary 2017 county budget that he submitted Tuesday, a day ahead of the requirement, to Clerk of the Board Carol McGovern. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

county-logoCOOPERSTOWN – The proposed county tax levy is up 0.4 percent in the preliminary budget that, by law, County Treasurer Dan Crowell had to deliver to Clerk of the County Board Carol McGovern by Tuesday, Nov. 15.

Applying surplus accrued over the past year, tax bills will stay even, he said.

The proposed levy – the amount that must be raised by local property taxes – is up  $45,003 to $11,400,165, Crowell said.   State subsidies and reimbursement cover the rest of the $105 million document.

CLICK HERE TO SEE PRELIMINARY 2017 COUNTY BUDGET

Budget Committee chair Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, said the public hearing is at 6 p.m. Nov. 28. The county board may then approve the document at its December meeting on the 7th.

County Wish List $8M Over Target

County Wish List

$8M Over Target

Frazier, Crowell Confident Budget

Can Be Pared To Avoid Tax Hike

By JIM KEVLIN • for www.AllOTSEGO.com

Crowell
Crowell
Frazier
Frazier

COOPERSTOWN – The difference between departmental wish lists and the Budget Committee goal is $8 million, but the officials who have started crafting the 2017 county budget are undeterred.

“These are gotta-haves and wanna-haves,” said county Rep. Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, who is chairing the Board of Representatives’ Budget Committee for the third year.  “My wife wanted a Cadillac and got a GMC Terrain.”

Rate Of Bed-Tax Growth Up 2.5 Times In ’15 Over ’14

Rate Of Bed-Tax Growth

Up 2.5 Times In ’15 Over ’14

sales tax growth copy

Dan Crowell
Dan Crowell

COOPERSTOWN – County Treasurer Dan Crowell reported today that the rate in bed-tax growth in 2015 was almost 2½ times higher than the year before – 11.21 percent last year, compared to $4.74 the year before.

He cited increased number of visitors, new hotel construction (Courtyard by Marriott in Oneonta), increased weekly rentals and enhanced collection of sales-tax revenues as among the factors.

He didn’t specify it, but the 2015 Hall of Fame Induction of Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz draw the fourth-largest crowd.

The Village of Cooperstown is seeing the greatest dollar growth; the Village of Unadilla, the greatest percentage growth.  “Overall, growth is the strongest and most consistent among the more highly active municipalities,” he said.

26 Jobs, Services On County Chopping Block

26 Jobs, Services On

County Chopping Block

By DON MATHISEN • for AllOTSEGO.com

County Treasurer Dan Crowell, middle, discusses the budget with county Reps. Rick Hulse, District 8, left, and Ed Lentz, District 5. (Don Mathisen/AllOTSEGO.com)
County Treasurer Dan Crowell, middle, discusses the budget with county Reps. Rick Hulse, District 8, left, and Ed Lentz, District 5. (Don Mathisen/AllOTSEGO.com)

COOPERSTOWN – The county Board of Representatives is on track to cut 19 full-time and 7 part-time employees, slash some services and raise property taxes by about $100,000.

That’s according to county Treasurer Dan Crowell and county Rep. Don Lindberg, R-Worcester, who chairs the Budget Review Committee.

“The committee has identified departments, dollar amounts and in some cases the number of positions to be cut,” said Crowell. “The committee is communicating with department heads to find the most efficient way to make the cuts with the lest negative impact on services.”

The job reductions, if approved by the full Board of Representatives, will save the county about $1.2 million.

In other measures to close the $4.2 million gap “we voted to keep all the bed tax money,” said Lindberg.

How Did $5 Million Boon Become $9 Million Gap?
THE COUNTY BEAT

How Did $5 Million Boon

Become $9 Million Gap?

Treasurer Explains County’s Changing Fortunes

County Treasurer Dan Crowell, center left, and county Rep. Don Lindberg, R-Worcester, center right, the Budge Review Committee chair, lead discussion at a meeting a week ago Monday. Clockwise from Lindberg are
County Treasurer Dan Crowell, center left, and county Rep. Don Lindberg, R-Worcester, center right, the Budge Review Committee chair, lead discussion at a meeting a week ago Monday. Clockwise from Lindberg are County Rep. Rick Hulse, R-Fly Creek, County Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr., County Reps. Kay Stuligross, D-Oneonta, Craig Gelbsman, R-Oneonta, and Ed Lentz, D-New Lisbon, and Clerk of the Board Carol McGovern.  (Don Mathisen/AllOTSEGO.com)

By DON MATHISEN • for AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – How did Otsego County go from a prospective $5 million surplus with last year’s sale of Otsego Manor to a $9 million budget gap?

The question is being raised as county representatives prepare the 2016 budget.

According to County Treasurer Dan Crowell, the surplus never materialized.

It evaporated when Otsego Manor legacy costs proved to be $1.8 million, sales-tax collections declined because of cheaper gas prices and an increase in online sales, and the cost of the emergency tower communication system currently being built was factored in.

Then when department heads submitted their wish lists for the 2016 budget, the county was facing a $9.2 million gap – Manor legacy cost, continuing sales-tax shortfalls, and the towers driving the gap.

Closing $9.2 Million Gap ‘Daunting, Do-able,’ County Treasurer Declares

Closing $9.2 Million Gap ‘Daunting,

Do-able,’ County Treasurer Declares

Dan Crowell
Dan Crowell

COOPERSTOWN – Closing the $9.2 million gap in Otsego County’s prospective 2016 budget is both “daunting and do-able,” county Treasurer Dan Crowell said today of what will be his seventh budget.  He added, “I haven’t been through a budget year that’s been easy.”

He was commenting after county Rep. Don Lindberg, R-Worcester, Budget Review Committee chair, sent out a notice that preliminary budget meetings will be at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29, and Tuesday, Oct. 6.

This Christmas, Shop Local – For The Fun Of It!

This Christmas, Shop Local – For The Fun Of It!

Editorial in the Edition of Thursday-Friday, Nov. 27-28

Shopping local isn’t simply a feel-good decision. It’s essential to the economic well-being of our Otsego County neighbors and ourselves.

In recent days, that’s been dramatized by the debate over whether the county should close the Department of Motor Vehicles Office in Cooperstown. The office was under threat because local drivers have opted to renew their licenses in Albany via the Internet.

Earlier this year, Otsego County Clerk Kathy Sinnot Gardner estimated $523,618 in online license renewals cost the county $63,500.

As the problem continued this year, the county Board of Representatives considered cutting two DMV jobs, saving an estimated $100,000 in salaries and benefits. Folks, those two salaries were going to local friends and neighbors, who spent that money locally, to everyone’s benefit.

Local auto dealers also weighed in on the debate, arguing the local offices’ efficiency helps them speedily process the paperwork to get the car you just bought quickly and conveniently into your hands. Send the paperwork to Albany? Good luck.

Folks, get out of that chair. Navigate and perambulate to your local DMV office. You’ll enjoy the fresh air and scenery. You’ll run into friends. Good times. The online experience is a limited one, and damaging to localities.

Also last year, going into what’s usually a shopping-heavy fourth quarter on our Main Streets and Southside Mall, county sales-tax revenues were running 3.5 percent ahead of the year before. So many local shoppers went to the Internet, however, sales-tax income had dropped to a 1.3 percent bump by year’s end, according to county Treasurer
Dan Crowell.

That represented a loss of an anticipated $600,000, he said. This year, sales-tax revenues are 4.02 percent ahead. But if local shoppers opt out as they did last year, that will translate into a $1.1 million loss in revenues, Crowell said.

Online retailers are supposed to charge and return the appropriate sales tax to localities, but that isn’t happening routinely. But that’s going to take a while to straighten out, if it ever is.

This editorial isn’t being written to make you, online Christmas shoppers, feel guilty. Shopping online is hard to resist with the convenience of it and sites like PromoCodeWatch.com saving you a fortune! But you’re missing the fun.

“I don’t think it’s even the same experience,” said Luisa Montanti, who spent years in retail before becoming Southside Mall manager. “We shoppers love to spend our money, but we also like the experience of going to the store, talking to the store clerk, trying things on and picking out the right color.”

Plus, how often do you get something in the mail and have to send it back. How aggravating is that? Any convenience from online shopping goes out the window.

In the weeks between now and Christmas, Hometown Oneonta & The Freeman’s Journal are going to feature fun local gifts, starting in this edition with Riverwood’s Todd Gibbons in Cooperstown and Monkey Barrel’s Kristian House in Oneonta. These are real toy stores, run by real aficionados of fun. Check ’em out.

Novelty is one aspect of Christmas, and novelty is what our serendipitous local merchants can deliver under the tree on Dec. 25. Partake!

Public Hearing On County Budget Planned Monday In Cooperstown

Public Hearing On County Budget

Planned Monday In Cooperstown

County Treasurer Dan Crowell, the county board's budget officer, outlines the 2015 spending plan at last Thursday's work session.  Behind him is Kathy Clark, R-Otego, county board chair.  (Ian Austin/allotsego.com)
County Treasurer Dan Crowell, the county board’s budget officer, outlines the 2015 spending plan at last Thursday’s work session. Behind him is Kathy Clark, R-Otego, county board chair. (Ian Austin/allotsego.com)

COOPERSTOWN – The Otsego County Board of Representatives have scheduled a public hearing for 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 1, in the County Office Building to hear comment on the proposed 2015 budget.

The $103 million document includes a local tax levy slightly over $11 million. That reflected a property tax decrease of 2.4 percent.

But given the decision to keep the Cooperstown DMV office and the “Gathering Place” senior site in Oneonta open would reduce that reduction to about 1.7 percent, according to County Treasurer Dan Crowell.

The reduction was made possible by the sale of Otsego Manor to Focus, a private entity based in Rockland County.  Most of the $5 million savings has been repurposed for road construction and delayed maintenance of county buildings, Crowell said.

REVIEW THE PROPOSED BUDGET

DMV, Elm Park Saved

DMV, Elm Park Saved During

County Budget Workshop

Janet Hurleu Quackenbush, James Powers, Dan Crowell and Don Lindberg listen to discussion about the possible closing of the Cooperstown DMV.  The DMV, as well as the Elm Park senior meal site, were re-allocated in the budget, which goes up for a vote in December.
Otsego County Rep. Janet Hurley Quackenbush, County Treasurer Dan Crowell and County Rep. James Powers listen to discussion about the possible closing of the Cooperstown DMV. The DMV, as well as the Elm Park senior meal site, were re-allocated in the budget, which goes up for a vote in December. (Ian Austin/allotsego.com)

COOPERSTOWN – After two weeks of worry about the possible closing of the Cooperstown DMV office and the relocation of the Elm Park senior meal center, a sigh of relief came when both items were once again placed on the 2015 budget proposal by an overwhelming majority.

During a three-hour workshop, the members of the Otsego County board debated, argued and added items to the County Treasurer Dan Crowell’s proposed budget.

In hoping to bring back the lively Thursday Oneonta’s Main Street enjoyed during the D&H heyday – Thursday was payday for the railroad workers – the board voted yes to having the Oneonta DMV opened from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Thursday evenings.  “This is a marketing tool,” said Lynda Rowinksi, District 13.  “There’s a lot of business to be had in Oneonta.”

Fingers Crossed. Forums May Achieve ‘Single Point Of Contact’

Fingers Crossed. Forums May Achieve ‘Single Point Of Contact’

Editorial for the edition of Thursday-Friday Oct. 16-17, 2014

Otsego County has never done economic development – and never will, county Treasurer Dan Crowell told the 2014 Otsego Leadership class when it convened last April at the Cooperstown Graduate Program.

Economic development requires risk-taking, Crowell said, and the county Board of Representatives simply has been unwilling to risk taxpayer money. He couldn’t imagine the reps ever will. That’s prudent; they shouldn’t.

So what’s had been called the county Economic Development Office, Crowell continued, was instead a grant-seeking entity, passing through funds mostly to eligible existing businesses.

The “single point of contact” concept that came out of last November’s “Seward Summit” was an exciting alternative to a concept that, per Crowell, could never work. Regrettably, both the county Board of Representatives and Otsego County Chamber declined to follow through.

That’s why a meeting of the minds last Thursday, Oct. 9, was such a relief, and important for achieving a viable economic future for Otsego County: i.e., our neighbors and their families who live off the local economy, not just pensioners from elsewhere.

It broke the deadlock.

Last Thursday, representatives of the county, of the chambers of commerce and of the IDA (the quasi-private county Industrial Development Agency) agreed on a program to, despite a few bumps in the road this year, make “single point of contact” business recruitment a reality.

In the next few weeks – time is of the essence, because the county board is putting together its 2015 budget – the three entities will convene three “forums” for chamber members, mostly small-business owners, who will be led through a structured discussion to determine what help, specifically, they need and want. Stay tuned for particulars, coming soon.

What they need may be advice (on grants or state programs). It may be referrals (to accountants or lawyers, to contractors or suppliers). It may be loans (private or public).

Once what will help small-businesses thrive is specified, the IDA will put together the pieces and make an appropriate proposal to the county’s Intergovermental Affairs Committee (IGA), for vetting before approval by the full county board.

County Reps. Craig Gelbsman, R-Oneonta, and Rick Hulse, R-Otsego, characterized this approach as “crawl, walk, run.” But Gelbsman made the goal plain: “We want a one-stop shop.”

What Gelbsman and Hulse are doing is sensibly backing away from an alternative that was going nowhere and – given Dan Crowell’s formulation – will never go anywhere.

Balking at a $250,000 IDA funding request a few months ago, the IGA committee (not to be confused with the IDA) pulled out of the “single point of contact” concept that came out of the second “Seward Summit” last November at Foothills.

First, it reduced the county Economic Development Office to a part-time receptionist answering the phone in the large, empty former county ec-dev office in Oneonta’s City Hall. Then, a few weeks ago, the IGA committee rechristened the county planning office the Department of Planning, Solid Waste & (oh, yes, by the way) Economic Development.

That wasn’t going anywhere.

If ye know these things, happy are ye who do them. That’s not us talking, that’s The Good Book (John 13:17), divinely inspired.

Dick Sheehy, one of the nation’s foremost business recruiters, told the last “Seward Summit” two things are necessary for successful economic development: One, “shovel ready sites.” Two, a “single point of contact” – if a company comes calling, it knows THE number to call.

The IDA embraced the Sheehy prescription. It hired Sandy Mathes, the former Greene County economic developer, one of the state’s best. It committed $3 million of its own money – private funds, from fees, not taxes. It identified two prospective sites for shovel-ready status (in Oneonta and Richfield Springs).

The piece that proved elusive was the “single point of contact.” Now, with the chambers and the county IGA Committee aboard, it looks like that’s going to happen, too.

Unity makes sense: Out of the single office and shared resources at 189 Main, the traditional IDA handles projects of $1 million and up; the county component does small-business loans and programs, and community development; and the chambers, tapping their members, provide guidance and support.

We’ve learned what to do. We know what to do. We’re more than half-way there. Now we’re going to do it.
Much credit for the positive turn of events is due to Gelbsman and Hulse, for coming around. To IDA chair Bob Hanft, who was supremely convincing at last week’s meeting. To state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, for continuing to nudge things in the right direction. To Barbara Ann Heegan, Otsego Chamber president, for bringing her 500 members to the table. (IDA COO Elizabeth Horvath said the Cooperstown Chamber is participating, too.)

To a lot of other people – you know who you are, and thank you – who, in a county that has less jobs today than a quarter century ago, are keeping the torch of hope alive.

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