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The Orleans County Legislature Wednesday failed to pass a budget because it could not agree if and when to increase the county sales tax by 1 percent.

The county would need State Legislature approval for the increase.

Legislator Ted Swiercznski of Albion and Gaines said, "If the sales tax increase goes into effect in January, we will realize a $1.8 million increase in revenues. We should lower the county property tax accordingly.

"Otherwise, we will receive a lot of argument from the people if we raise the sales and property tax at the same time," he said.

The budget proposal calls for a 6-cent increase over last year's $8.02 property tax rate.

County Attorney Norris L. Webster and county Chief Administrative Officer Stanley J. Dudek were told to report to the Legislature Monday about the possible time frame of the proposed county sales tax hike.

"The increase in sales tax is likely," Dudek said, "because the county is faced with serious 1991 budgetary problems."

He said that reducing the number of inmates in the two state prisons in the county by 16 will cost the county almost $500,000 that was figured into the budget. The county charges other counties $70 a day to keep inmates from other counties.

In addition, the state's proposal to reduce to 50 percent from 55 its funding of the $2 million physically handicapped program will cost the county another $200,00, Dudek said.

Freezes on nursing home rates and Medicaid also will cost the county revenue, Dudek said.

The Legislature also is still considering whether to reduce its aid to county schools by 50 percent.

Since 1973, the county has given 11.11 percent of its sales tax revenue to school districts. According to Kendall School Superintendent Harlow D. Fisher, the proposed 50 percent cut would amount to a $650,000 loss to the five main school districts and four smaller districts.

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