Knox tentative $2.2M budget shows no tax increase

KNOX — Tax rates are steady in Knox’s tentative $2.2 million budget for 2021, which also projects higher revenues and higher spending. 

The tentative budget is a first draft of the town’s final budget, which must be adopted by Nov. 20 after a series of town workshops where town residents and officials can offer their opinions. Town budgets are crafted by town supervisors — in this case Vasilios Lefkaditis — who by law serve as a town’s chief fiscal officer. 

Before the budget is adopted by a town board vote, it must first be transformed from a tentative budget to a preliminary budget, which will also happen by a town board vote. 

“We have worked extremely hard over the past 5 years micromanaging our budget by reducing expenses, holding vendors accountable, negotiating purchases, and accounting for every penny, and it has paid off,” Lefkaditis told The Enterprise in an email. “We’ve been able to increase our cash balances while at the same time invest in our assets, increase services, and maintain a 0% tax increase for 5 straight years in a row.”

Knox’s total spending next year, including special districts, will be $2,180,054, an increase of $22,000 from that of the adopted 2020 budget. Revenue — aside from property taxes — is projected at $1,348,435, an increase of $50,650. 

Lefkaditis placed an additional $30,000 in the Playground and Recreation account, which he said is “a placeholder for additional improvements to the [town] park.” The town recently installed a walkway in the park which Lefkaditis said is getting rave reviews from residents. 

The Refuse and Garbage account will see a substantial increase, with an additional $32,000 going to personal services, bringing that line to $64,000; and an additional $11,500 going to equipment, bringing that line to $31,500.

This, Lefkaditis confirmed, is related to the town’s consolidation of five part-time town positions. Accordingly, personal-services lines elsewhere have decreased. 

Last year, Knox got $1,007,870 in sales-tax revenues, which are distributed by the county to municipalities based on population.

Sales tax took a hit this year because of the statewide shutdown that was initiated in March to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

For the 2021 Knox budget, Lefkaditis has projected sales-tax revenues at $930,000, about $78,000 less than last year.

A payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement the town recently negotiated with TK NYS Solar HoldCo — which purchased the solar panels near Old Stage Road on David Whipple’s farmland that had been installed by Borrego Solar — will net the town $16,000 this year with that amount increasing approximately 2- to 3-percent annually.

More Hilltowns News

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.