Spending, savings decreased in W'lo budget

The Enterprise — Marcello Iaia

Through wind and rain: The Westerlo highway garage, housed in the building that used to hold the town hall, has a roof that leaks during rainstorms. Gusts of wind peeled away a layer of the rubber-coated roof on Tuesday, which was later nailed in place. A large amount of money for its repair this year was used instead for flood recovery projects, according to Supervisor Richard Rapp.

WESTERLO — The town’s adopted budget for next year decreases spending by 6 percent and increases the amount of taxes to be raised by just over $9,000. Including special districts, it totals $2.54 million.

Money used from the town’s fund balance dropped from $208,500 this year to $36,371 for 2014 because, according to Supervisor Richard Rapp, that’s what is available. A $12,000 reduction in spending by the water district, though, was credited towards the town’s fund balance.

“That’s because of FEMA,” Rapp said. “I had to use all the money.” The Federal Emergency Management Agency has helped to fund repairs after Tropical Storm Irene flooded the area in 2011 but, Rapp said, the agency has yet to reimburse the town roughly $100,000 for completed projects.

Money totaling $100,000 allocated last year for the repair of the highway garage was used for flood recovery instead, Rapp said.

“I took the money from there and used it on Tan Hollow and Lobdell Mill Road,” said Rapp.

The town board has weighed the decision of repairing or rebuilding the garage, which has leaks in its roof and adjoins the town court and a State Police office. “If it starts raining, we’ll move stuff around,” said the town’s highway superintendent, Keith Wright.

Wright said a rubber-coated sheet covering the roof of the garage was peeled away and rolled up by wind on Tuesday morning. He and other highway workers rolled the sheet out and nailed wooden boards along its perimeter, Wright said.

Rapp said the town’s insurance company would be inspecting the roof. For next year, $65,000 is appropriated for the building in contractual expenses, but none for capital outlay, which was budgeted $150,000 this year. Asked whether the budget includes enough to cover repairs, Rapp said, “I think it’s enough.”

An increase of more than $30,000 was made for paramedic services from the county, from $50,000. But the amount spent in 2012 was more than $118,000, according to the budget. The Westerlo Rescue Squad has a separate budget, with the same $100,000 as last year. The squad recently purchased a new truck.

The budget includes a 1-percent raise for highway employees. Money appropriated for the highway superintendent was raised by $5,000 to $55,000, or 10 percent.

Funds for zoning and planning board members had $2,000 and $3,000 increases. Rapp said the board had vacancies filled and members received a 75-cent hourly raise.

For the full-time town clerk, the annual $31,400 salary was raised to $34,500. The supervisor’s clerk had a decreased appropriation, from $44,768 to $36,000, because, Rapp said, she has less experience than her predecessor who worked for the town for more than 20 years.

Nearly half of the town’s revenue comes from money the county raises through sales tax and shares with towns based on population. The estimated sales-tax revenues for the town this year are up slightly, but a larger portion was given to the highway budget.

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