Talking the other day with TV producer and investigative reporter Michael Singer, who will be interviewing me this October at Spencertown Academy, an intriguing question came up: How much does it cost to keep Columbia County going?
Using public sources, my back-of-the-envelope answer is: About $350 million gets spent on municipal, county and school budgets (roughly $42, $142, and $169 million, respectively).
That $350,000,000 figure does not include State and Federal direct spending, i.e. costs not passed through Columbia County’s town and county government, or schools.
Census figures indicate that the Feds spent a whopping $518 million on Columbia County in 2012, but a portion of that presumably would be already included in the $350 million figure above.
I haven’t yet found a county-by-county breakdown of State spending, some of which would already be subsumed into that $350 million figure, some of it not. (For example, budgets for State Troopers, courts and State-maintained roads would not be included in that amount.) A town-by-town State spending table can be found here.
Conservatively, I would guesstimate that to service the 60,000+ residents of Columbia County costs our town, County, State and Federal governments somewhere between $850 million and $1 billion annually. If correct, that would average out to as much as $17,000 in public spending per man, woman and child.