V’ville adopts $3.36M budget, warned about drop in future revenues

VOORHEESVILLE – The village board at its April meeting approved a $3.36 million budget for next year.

The adopted budget is increased about 24-percent from this year’s budget, which is due largely to a sidewalk capital project that will cost $747,000, of which the village is paying $149,400 and the state is paying $598,000.

Absent the one-time expense of the sidewalk construction, the village budget is flat for next year.

The tax rate for village residents remains the same as this year, $1.26 per $1,000 of assessed value. In addition, village residents also pay into New Scotland’s townwide general and highway funds at $1.40 per $1,000 of assessed value. The total assessed value for village property is $257,486,296, of which $234,120,222 is taxable.

Conners warns about future revenues

After adopting its budget for next year, the village board heard from Albany County Comptroller Michael Conners about preparing now for major costs down the road.

Conners said that the Albany County workforce – both county and municipal employees – decreased by 13 percent from 2007 to 2015, but the payroll increased from $43 million to $68 million. “There has also been an upward push in the cost of retirement and insurance,” he said.

Conners offered one solution to help rein in insurance costs: A health consortium, where small municipalities would join together to purchase insurance since more municipalities and more employees mean greater leverage in driving down the cost of insurance.

He said that Tompkins County, about 170 miles west of Albany County, had a successful consortium that was started by the supervisor of the town of Caroline, which had nine municipal employees – Mayor Robert Conway said that Voorheesville has 12.

From one town, the consortium grew to include six counties, Conners said, and over a five-year period the six counties were able to build up surpluses of $35 million, a savings of $6,000 per employee.

Conners also talked about the need for an internet sales tax, which was pulled from state’s budget at the last minute, after eBay, the online marketplace, was able to mount a campaign against it, he said.

Last year, Albany County received about $259 million is sales-tax revenue, which then distributed $103 million to local governments, based on population.

He said that the village collected about $290,000 in property taxes and about $900,000 in sales-tax revenue from the county.

If online shopping continues to grow – in 2001, online shopping accounted for eight-tenths of a percent of total sales; by 2017, e-commerce accounted for 9.1 percent of total sales – county sales-tax revenues would drop and local municipalities’ property taxes could skyrocket.

Conners said that it would take only a 10-percent reduction in sales-revenue to increase local property taxes by 30 percent. “Because you’re getting three times as much sales-tax revenue as property tax,” he said.

Conners told The Enterprise that he is bringing up these issues now because there is no quick fix; it will take serious planning to make changes. He admits that getting municipalities to plan and prepare for the bad times, while basking in the good, is just shy of hopeless, but said, “I’d rather curse the darkness with one candle than do nothing.”

More New Scotland News

  • “It would be in line with the town’s hamlet idea,” said developer Ron Kay of his plan for 20 acres along Route 85, across the road from the Stewart’s Shop and in between Stonewell Plaza and the convent-turned-apartments at 1903 New Scotland Road.

  •  “They say 83.28-percent complete,” Councilman William Hennessy said during the Jan. 12 town board meeting of the Hilton Barn’s new slate roof. “Whereas they’re really more like probably 90-percent done.”

  • “As marketed, it has not generated a buyer,” said Chuck Marshall of Stewart’s Shops of the former Smith’s Tavern. 

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