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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 23, 2009

Sales tax revenue down, but not as much as expected

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — The county’s first sales tax revenue payment for 2009 arrived on April 15, and Supervisor Kenneth Runion says he is “cautiously optimistic.”

The initial town budget for 2009, passed in November 2008, predicted a sales tax revenue of $10.4 million. In January, when the payment from the last quarter of 2008 was down 8.5 percent from the last quarter of 2007, Runion revised the spending plan and shifted things around, so that the budget would be able to balance on $9.7 million of sales tax revenue. That would reflect a projected decrease of 8.5 percent, Runion told The Enterprise.

Guilderland has a $30 million budget, with roughly a third of the revenues coming from sales tax. The county collects the sales tax and redistributes it to municipalities based on population.

The shifts that Runion made in January to protect the budget include the reduction of over-time for police, paramedics, and the town court, and tightened spending in all departments.

Councilman Warren Redlich, a Republican who is often at odds with the Democratic supervisor, raised concerns about sales tax revenue at the town board meeting on Tuesday, after he read an April 15 article in The Wall Street Journal that said sales tax revenue was down an average of 12 percent nationally.

Redlich chided Runion for not sharing the sales tax revenue figures with the town board. Runion told Redlich that he could, and should, get the figures from the county comptroller, but Runion readily shared the information with The Enterprise after the board meeting ended.

The first quarter sales tax revenue payment was received two weeks into April; Runion told The Enterprise that the amount was $2,442,372.52, as compared to the first quarter payment in 2008, in the amount of $2,615,867.90. That represents a 6.63 percent reduction.

“It’s never good to see a reduction,” said Runion, “but this is a sign that our economy hasn’t deepened since the initial hit.”

Redlich told The Enterprise, “I’m actually glad it’s not worse, but the Capital Region might lag, and I’m worried it might get worse over the next three quarters.”

If the sales tax revenue were to decrease further, Runion said he would still feel comfortable with the budget. There is a $200,000 contingency fund worked into the budget, and, in the case of a large sales tax revenue decrease, the town would not spend the contingency, Runion said.

In addition to the contingency fund, the town also has fund balances, which Runion said have actually increased since 2008.

“I feel comfortable that we made the right decision in January,” said Runion.

Other business

In other business at the town board meeting on April 21, the board unanimously voted to:

— Modify leases to replace existing antennas for Westmere and Fort Hunter water towers;

— Award chemical bids for 2009-2010 based upon the lowest qualified bidders as provided by the water and wastewater departments;

— Award maintenance services agreement covering mechanical equipment and systems located at town hall;

— Permanently appoint Linda Cure to the position of public relations officer — duties she was already performing — from the Albany County Civil Service list; and,

— Appoint Kelly Gardner and Peter Sparano to fill vacant positions on the town’s Board of Assessment Review, and Debra Murphy and Regina DuBois as temporary or alternate members of the Board of Assessment Review.

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