Runion's last budget: $33M, no tax hike

— Enterprise file photo

Long at the helm of Guilderland's town finances, outgoing Supervisor Ken Runion submitted the last budget under his administration.

GUILDERLAND — Supervisor Kenneth Runion said that, for the 16 years he’s been in office, formulating the budget has been “a balancing act of planning for the future with the limited resources we have.”

The supervisor put together his last preliminary budget, submitted on Sept. 28, and, once again, is proud to have held the line on taxes.

The proposed budget of $33,216,908 has a town tax rate of just over 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

“We have always had the lowest tax rate in Albany County,” said Runion. “Whether that will continue with the new administration, I don’t know. A new administration will have different goals and expectations and may choose to raise taxes.”

He called the budget “bare bones,” both in terms of expenditures and revenues.

“There are always things to be done if you have the money, but, when you are faced with a tax cap, there isn’t a lot of extra,” said Runion.

Three years ago, the state set a levy limit of 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. Going over the limit would require a supramajority vote of the town board.

Aside from rebuilding the pool house in Tawasentha Park — the full cost of which has yet to be determined — there are no special projects slated for 2016, he said. The decades-old pool house burned to the ground in June.

“We haven’t gotten the final numbers for the pool house yet and there may need to be some extra money found in the budget to work on that,” said Runion.

The budget proposes a standard 2.5-percent raise for all town employees, and no new positions were eliminated or created.

The town’s overall tax rate will not increase, but the highway department tax rate will increase by two cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or 2.4 percent.

“Each year the highway department looks at getting a few more miles of road reconstructed, and that’s why there’s a slight increase on that side,” said Runion.

The water and sewer tax rates will each decrease slightly, he said.

None of the town’s department heads requested “anything out of the ordinary,” and, in fact, the budget was pared down in some departments because, in previous years, money had been allocated and never used.

The preliminary budget proposes these salaries for the town’s elected officials:

  • Supervisor: $110,340;
  • Town board member: $23,617;
  • Town clerk and receiver of taxes: $58,069;
  • Judges: $49,943 each; and
  • Highway superintendent: $84,713.

The town board also acted, this year, to save money in the future, by entering into a solar-energy contract with SunEdison, said the supervisor.

As a new supervisor prepares to take over in 2016, Runion said he believes the town is in good financial shape, but it will be up to the new administration to decide how to move forward.

The rainy-day funds have continued to increase and are solid, the town has no debt, and the sales tax revenue for 2015 is strong, he said.

The preliminary budget is available to the public on the town’s website, at www.townofguilderland.org. A public hearing will be held at the town hall on Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m. and the final budget must be adopted before Nov. 20.

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