Town mulls $7.2M budget to stay under cap

NEW SCOTLAND — The town’s 2015 budget is tentatively set at $7,200,405, staying under the state-set tax-levy cap of 1.94 percent, and taxes would increase just under $10 for residents with a home valued at $250,000.

Much of the revenue for the town comes from Albany County sales tax, with other, smaller amounts of funds coming from franchise fees, zoning fees, and safety inspection fees.

Town Supervisor Thomas Dolin noted that many new homes are being built in the town, which will help close the gap in revenue in future years.

A struggle in the budget Dolin described was the increase in medical insurance premiums, which took up all the revenue the town could raise under the cap, he said. The town’s estimated unreserved fund balance is $742,870 for 2015.

“We save it for situations like we’re currently experiencing,” he said, regarding the insurance increases, as well as a projected $70,000 decrease in mortgage tax revenue.

In creating its budget, the town is aware of the incentives provided by the state for staying under the tax cap. The first year a municipality stays under the tax cap, the state will provide tax rebates to homeowners in that municipality. The second year, the state will provide that rebate only if the municipality stays under the cap and currently is involved in shared services, or makes plans to implement shared services or administrative consolidation in the future.

Dolin said that the incentives are something the town is “absolutely” looking into and it is “something we’re just starting to analyze.”

New Scotland already has many shared services, including water with Bethlehem, and so homeowners should reap the rewards of the state program, if the town continues to stay under the tax cap for the next two fiscal years.

Expenditures

The overall budget accounts for the fire protection districts, special light districts, special emergency medical technician districts, and five water districts.

The water districts include Clarksville, Feura Bush, Font Grove, Heldervale, Northeast, and Swift Road. Clarksville is appropriated $152,249; Feura Bush, $110,102; Font Grove, $19,714; Heldervale, $72,977; Northeast, $101,733; and Swift Road, $38,900.

Each district except Feura Bush and Swift Road will get funds from the appropriated fund balance, which totals $236,949.

The general fund town-wide is $1,785,186, and $2,123,615 outside the village of Voorheesville. The highway fund townwide is $2,500 and $1,897,331 outside the village.

The highway funds decreased by $342.22, from $106,256.30 in last year’s budget to $105,932.08 this year.

Additionally, the highway garage budget allocation decreased by $1,629.61, down to $45,730.36 from $47,359.97 last year.

Within the highway budget, general repairs decreased by over $10,000 due to a slight increase in personnel services costs and a significant decrease in contracted expenses.

Dolin said that the town is doing more things itself with in-house employees, which accounts for some of the savings.

The capital outlay for permanent improvements increased by $42,000, machinery costs decreased over $16,000 due to a decrease in personal services, and employee benefits and debt service also went down.

The snow-removal allocation increased by about $3,000 for personal services.

Employee benefits saw a decrease overall from state retirement, social security, workers’ compensation, and disability insurance.

State aid and the interfund revenue for the highway department increased.

The tentative 2015 budget for the highway department is $5,555.84 higher than the budget as amended for 2014.

Funds for parks increased over $10,000 for this year, while youth program funds were cut by almost half, at $28,723.57 to $15,533.60 for 2015.

The increase in the parks budget occurred because the one full-time parks employee had his salary allocated 90 percent to parks and 10 percent to the building department, rather than 70 percent to parks and the remaining 30 to the building department, as in previous years, Dolin said.

 

More New Scotland News

  • Recent testing showed the nitrate level in the Clarksville Water District supply had dropped from 11.3 milligrams per liter in late November to about 5.4 milligrams per liter on Dec. 30.

  • Voorheesville Superintendent Frank Macri noted not everything on the previous five-year condition survey got done. “I know we looked at two five-year [surveys] previously,” he said, “and there were still things that were on those five-year plans that weren’t accomplished … So just because they’re on a five-year plan doesn’t mean they have to get finished.”

  • Voorheesville Mayor Rich Straut said he wasn’t sure why the same state funding was announced again, but surmised it had something to do with the village hitting another threshold in the project, what Straut called “closing on the financing.”

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