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HEARING ON BUDGET IS DELAYED

The Genesee County Legislature on Wednesday agreed to postpone for eight days a public hearing on a potential $113 million 2005 budget fueled in part by another $2 million towards state-mandated programs of which more than half will go to Medicaid.

County manager Jay A. Gsell said the hearing will be postponed until Nov. 16. Protests are likely about eliminating up to 20 positions and raising the tax rate by nearly 10 percent from the present $9.97 per $1,000 assessed valuation.

Some small relief may come from a half percent hike in the mortgage tax and a 30-cent user fee for cell phones. Both have been approved by the State Legislature but need a county law to implement the taxes.

A public hearing on both was set Wednesday by the Legislature for Nov. 10. County Clerk Don M. Read estimates that the hike in the mortgage tax will bring in $350,000 and the cell phone levy $25,000 in 2005.

The Legislature has set a limit of $10.92 for the property tax. Gsell is faced with cutting $1 million from the spending plan to meet that goal.

He said the county will need to cut up to 20 full-time jobs or get some senior employees to retire. He said that for every position eliminated, the county can save $50,000 in pay and benefits.

The county, with 750 employees, is operating with a record high $108 million budget this year.

The Legislature in one of its periodic outreach sessions met in Alabama Town Hall.

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