Official: 2016 budget addresses Cortland’s drug problem

CORTLAND, N.Y. – Budget talks are underway among Cortland County lawmakers, who hope to pass a spending plan for 2016 before the end of the month.

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The $123 million proposed budget for 2016 would stay within the state-mandated property tax cap, currently set at .73 percent.

Peggy Mousaw, the county’s director of budget and finance, presented the 2016 tentative budget to a committee of county legislators last week.

Included in the budget is funding for two new investigators at the Cortland County Sheriff’s Department, who would focus heavily on drug-related activity.

Mousaw billed the two additional investigator positions as a way to fuel economic development in the county.

“Unfortunately, if you look at the growth [statistics] provided by the state comptroller’s office, Cortland hasn’t had a lot of economic development,” Mousaw told county legislators last week.

Mousaw says drug-related crimes are driving up costs for public safety, the probation department and social services.

“Make Cortland someplace people don’t want to come with their drugs,” she said. “What’s gonna happen if you do that? You’re going to start getting a different type of people that will want to come here. They’ll start investing in Cortland. They’ll build better houses. That’s where you’re going to get your economic development.”

The budget also includes funding for two new positions in the Buildings and Grounds Department, one of which would be in charge of maintenance at the county jail, which officials have said is overcrowded and in need of repairs.

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