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NEW FEES PLANNED TO COVER RISING COSTS

The Genesee County Legislature is poised to add two fees in a token effort to offset mounting costs of state mandated programs, including Medicaid, in its $110.7 million budget for next year.

At a public hearing this week, only one speaker protested a one-quarter percent rise in the mortgage tax and a 30-cent per month surcharge on cell phones.

"Adding more taxes will not solve the problem," said John L. Sackett Jr., a former legislator from Byron. He advised a 5 percent salary cut for all county administrators and employees and urged that the county adopt a less expensive health plan. "We in Genesee County pay 46 percent more in state and local taxes than the national average," he claimed.

The two resolutions are expected to be adopted at the Legislature's Nov. 22 meeting, when members also are expected to approve next year's budget and its increase of 9.5 percent -- $10.92 per $1,000 assessed valuation -- in the property tax rate.

Increasing the mortgage tax to 1 1/4 percent is projected to bring in $350,000. The county receives none of the current 1 percent transfer fee, which goes to the state and the Rochester-Regional Transportation Authority.

The cell phone surcharge billed to providers and ultimately passed on to users is expected to raise $25,000, which helps finance the 911 emergency communications network.

In other action, the legislators agreed to hold a public hearing later this month on raising salaries for a dozen elected and appointed county officials.

Legislators John J. Hodgins, R-Batavia, and Earl C. LaGrou III, R-Oakfield, expressed reservations about any salary increases since the new budget would eliminate 16 jobs.

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