$2.7M preliminary R’ville budget stays under tax cap

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff
Three-fold cost increase: Since Rensselaerville Volunteer Ambulance, once housed at the building seen here, closed this summer, the town will be paying $60,000 for county ambulance services rather than $20,000 for the volunteer-based service in the coming year.

RENSSELAERVILLE — On Oct. 25, the Rensselaerville town board held a public hearing on a proposed local law that would allow the town to go above the New York State tax-levy limit for the 2018 budget. The town board will decide on Nov. 9 whether to enact that law.

“We do that every year,” said Supervisor Valerie Lounsbury, who is not seeking re-election, “In case we need to go above the tax cap.

Lounsbury said that it is unlikely that the town would go above the 2-percent levy increase. The current $2.7 million preliminary budget calls for a 1.73-percent increase; a total of $1.3 million of revenues will be from real-property taxes.

The supervisor said that the 2018 budget will see an increase in its ambulance billing of $40,000. In previous years, the town had paid $20,000 to the volunteer-run Rensselaerville Volunteer Ambulance, which closed this summer.

The Albany County Sheriff’s Office now has stationed an emergency medical technician in the Hilltowns, and will be charging Rensselaerville $60,000 in 2018. The charge is set to increase exponentially over the next four years in order to cover the cost of the new EMT service. The town will also be paying $57,000 for the sheriff’s paramedic service, a slight increase from last year’s $54,500.

Lounsbury noted that the town has also been receiving money from the Rensselaerville Volunteer Ambulance that was paid by insurance companies billed for patient care. The supervisor said the town had received between $30,000 and $45,000 annually in previous years. While the county similarly bills patients’ insurance for ambulance trips, Lounsbury said, “We can’t rely on that,” because the profits first go to cover county expenses.

Lounsbury said that there were few other significant increases in spending planned for next year. However, the recycling coordinator will have a $931 salary increase to $38,186.90 for the full-time job, and the clerk to the supervisor will have a $470 increase to $23,670 for the part-time job.

The highway superintendent will have about a $1,100 increase to his salary to $45,407.50 for the full-time job. The highway department workers’ wages Lounsbury did not comment on, as she said the town is currently still negotiating with the the department’s union.

Rensselaerville will be spending less money for the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals. Because the ZBA has finished changing the zoning law, said Lounsbury, the town will not have to pay as much for attorney fees as it did this year. The town also changed its contract to lease a photocopier and will spend $8,000 less in 2018.

Rensselaerville will be using $375,000 in funds from its unexpended fund balance, said Lounsbury. The highway department will also use $45,000 from a separate fund balance of Federal Emergency Management Agency funds awarded following Tropical Storm Irene to purchase equipment.

Lounsbury said the town is “being very careful” when using county sales-tax revenue and heeding the warning of state and county officials that sales-tax revenue may be on the decline as more people shop online. Sales tax revenues are pegged at $550,000 ― the same amount as 2017, which should be enough because the budget does not estimate as high since sales tax can vary, she said.

The town will hold a final budget hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 1, at 7 p.m., and will likely vote on the budget at the next town board meeting on Nov. 9. The state’s Town Law requires that a budget be adopted by Nov. 20.

The preliminary budget:

— $767,808.90 in revenues and $1,042,808.90 in appropriations for the general fund;

— $1,272,225 in revenues and $1,372,225 in appropriations for the highway fund;

The preliminary budget also allots:

— $179,600 for the town’s fire districts;

— $8,650 for the town’s lighting districts;

— $2,500 for the town’s hydrant district;

— $44,855 for the town’s sewer district; and

— $45,234.95, including for a bond anticipation note, for the town water fund.

 

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