There will be a Public Hearing on the Supervisor’s Preliminary Town Budget at 7pm Weds 10/27/10. This budget, as it stands will see a 15% decrease in the Townwide Tax Levy and a 1/2% decrease in the Fire Protection Levy.
This reduction in Townwide Tax Levy can be sustained for about 3 years as long as something really wacko does not happen like an asteroid hitting the town hall or $5 a gallon gasoline.
I can accomplish this 3 year tax reduction because of 2 things;
1) The Highway Superintendent has cut over $60,000 from his budget. Greg Brown, using fiscal restraint and innovative ways to stretch the dollar has made the Highway Department much more efficient. The Highway Dept takes the lion share of the Budget, so any cut back in costs really affects the taxes. The Highway Dept workers recently joined the Teamsters Union and the negotiated 3 year contract with them sees a 3% increase in wages after 3 years. This is not 3% a year, but 3% after the 3 year life of the contract with year 1 = 0% increase, year 2 = 1.5% increase and year 3 = 1.5% increase. Therefore, as far as highway wages go, we can see 3 years down the road for anticipated expenses.
2) After careful research and discussions with the NYS Comptroller, Wash County Treasurer, & NYS Association of Towns I have determined that our Unappropriated Fund Balance does not need to be as large as it is. The Unappropriated Fund Balance is left over money that accumulates from year to year that does not have a destination. If the town does not spend all the money allocated in the budget, the excess that is not already pegged to be spent on anything specific goes into this “piggy bank”. This piggy bank is meant as an “OH CRAP!” cushion fund in case you need to spend much more than anticipated due to an emergency, etc. In my opinion this fund is too large and needs to be spent down to a reasonable level. The Town, with its risk factors, etc should have an Unappropriated Fund Balance of about 20% of the 2011 appropriations. This equals to about $211,000 and once the left over money for 2010 is figured in, could approach half a million dollars. It is cruel hearted to continue high taxing our citizens in the worst recession most of us have ever seen while sitting on this larger than needed mountain of cash. By bringing down around $75,000 per year, to offset the amount of taxes we pay, it will take about 3 years to get the Unappropriated Fund Balance where it should be. You hear that the recession is over and then the next day it is back on. But one thing I do know is that jobs are a lagging indicator and they are the first things to go and the last things to come back. A 3 year Town Tax relief program will be a welcome relief to those of us having a hard time with our personal budgets. We are taxed to death in this state and during the next 3 years, we will not be resting on our laurels, but rather sharpening our pencils to try to stretch this tax relief to 4 or 5 years.
Fire Protection Levy: For the 2011 Tax bill, this will show a 1/2% decrease in levy. The reason for this is that the 2011 year has the same $136,000 payment as the 2010 year, but due to a $661 credit from the county it will actually be slightly decreased to $135,339 for 2011. I recently negotiated a new 3 year contract with the Hartford Volunteer Fire Company subject to Town Board approval and due to the fiscal conservative nature of the Fire Company we were able to come up with an increase of 3.6% after the end of 3 years. The Fire Company were real team players in my attempt to lower the amount of town taxes we pay. The increase from year 1 ($136,000) to year 3 ($141,000) is $5,000 but due to the fact that the Fire Company will pay the town back $9,000 over the next 3 years for a Heating Oil bill error, it is actually a 2% decrease.
Please come to the Public Hearing on the 27th and advocate for the budget and lower taxes. Also advocate for the approval of the Fire Contract.