Guilderland board set to adopt $48M ‘conservative’ budget for next year

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff

Tawasentha Park is used all year round. Guilderland’s 2023 preliminary budget adds park laborers.

GUILDERLAND — The town board here on Nov. 1 heard from just one resident at its public hearing on the preliminary 2023 town budget.

The $48 million spending plan reduces the tax levy by 5 percent from this year and is $234,000 under the state-set levy limit, according to Supervisor Peter Barber.

Barber, who called it “a very conservative budget,” said it won’t be adopted until Nov. 15 because the Albany County election mandate needs to be finalized; the budget posted on the town’s website lists that as costing $69,626.

State law sets Nov. 20 as the deadline for a town board to adopt a budget.

Guilderland’s preliminary budget, not including special districts for lighting, fire and ambulance services, totals $39,633,144 to be supported with $12,442,174 in taxes.

The overall budget totals $48,021,388 to be supported with $18,387,070 in taxes.

Barber noted there were “not a whole bunch of changes” from the tentative budget he presented in September and said three things are driving the budget.

The first is inflation. “We are seeing marked increases in electric, gas, diesel, chemicals, anything you can think of,” Barber said, noting a 57-percent increase in electricity costs.

Second, he said, is sales tax. “Whether there’s going to be a recession or downturn, who knows but we have to plan for the worst and hope for the best,” said Barber.

He also said the preliminary budget relies on a “modest increase” of sales-tax revenues, of about 3 percent, which would bring the total to $13.8 million although “right now we’re projecting $15.7,” said Barber.

Benefits constitute the third driving force, said Barber, noting those are costs that the town doesn’t “have much control over.” The preliminary budget slates $3.6 million for health insurance costs for employees, which is an almost 15 percent increase.

Barber also went over some of the new posts added for next year: a police sergeant, which he said is important as staff is getting younger; a person to support technology since everything from police cars to water and sewer systems are run through computers; laborers for the town parks and transfer station; and a paramedic and emergency medical technician since, because of the town’s aging population, Guilderland Emergency Medical Services is “getting a lot more calls.”

According to the United States Census Bureau, 18.4 percent of Guilderland’s roughly 37,000 residents are 65 or older.

John Haluska, the only resident to speak at the hearing, asked that the budget include $15,000 to $20,000 to take down the long vacated Rustic Barn on Western Avenue. Haluska has advocated for its removal for more than a decade.

Haluska congratulated the board on the removal of a half-dozen dilapidated buildings in town, saying, “We’ve had good success getting these awful places down.”


Other business

In other business at its Nov. 1 meeting, the Guilderland Town Board:

— Rescheduled until Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. the continuation of a public hearing on a law that would preserve native trees. The draft was to be reworked because of issues raised at the initial Sept. 20 hearing;

— Accepted a utility and drainage easement for an approved three-lot minor subdivision at 6185 Johnston Road;

— Approved a Host Community Agreement with the New York Independent System Operator Inc. for its property at 3890 Carman Road. Barber said the 10-year agreement was a renewal of an earlier agreement on an otherwise nontaxable property;

— Approved naming the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, as “Small-Business Saturday”;

— Approved the names of two private lanes proposed by the developer of a 222-unit apartment complex, the Apex at Crossgates: Apex Lane and Zenith Lane;

— Approved the re-levy of $199,411.04 in unpaid water bills for the 2021-22 water billing cycle. “The county collects it,” said Barber;

— Waived building permit fees for the construction of the new EMS station at 400 Arthur’s Place near the town’s golf course.

Barber had said earlier in the meeting that construction is about to begin on Guilderland’s third station, funded entirely by the town rather than through federal pandemic funds as originally planned; and

— Heard from Barber that the town has a new 27-seat bus for seniors. He said it “took at least 10 tries” to get the $135,000 in grant money for the bus, and the town now “can finally put out to pasture” one of its two older, smaller buses. Rather than using two buses for a shopping trip, now the seniors can fit in the one new bus, he said.

More Guilderland 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.