Dear Hartford Taxpayer,
To my knowledge, this is the first time a Budget Letter has been sent out to Hartfords’ Taxpayers explaining the Town Budget. I feel that it is important to keep our citizens informed of their local government’s actions, especially how we are spending your hard earned money.
This year’s Supervisor’s Budget, which is my first as Supervisor will see a significant 15% decrease in the Town of Hartford Tax Levy. The Townwide tax levy (amount to be raised thru taxes) for 2011 will be about $135,000 less than last year.
This is a time of economic hardship. This recession we are in is the worst since the Great Depression. There are some reports that the recession is over but the next day there will be a report that it is back on. One thing that I do know is that employment is a lagging indicator. Jobs are the first things to be lost and the last things to come back. Therefore the time for tax relief is now, plus I think I can sustain this relief for the next three years.
When you receive your Wash. Co. Town and County Tax Bill in the mail in January, please study it carefully and itemize the bill separating “Town” from “County”. The tax levy for “Townwide Tax” has been reduced by about 15% and the tax levy for “Hartford Fire” has been reduced by about 0.5%. No two properties are alike but generally most tax payers should notice a significant decrease in their Town tax. Of course, if you recently added a large addition to your house or did something that really increases the assessed value of your property you may see an increase, but those persons should be few and far between.
This tax relief is possible because of three main reasons;
1) The Town Highway Dept., which takes the lion’s share of the town budget is running more efficiently. Superintendent Brown is using innovative ways to cut spending and stretch the tax payers’ dollars.
2) There are two new three year contracts that have been negotiated with both the Hartford Volunteer Fire Company and Hartford Highway Department Teamsters Union. Both contracts are rather conservative. Both contracts see about a 3% increase over a 3 year period. This is not 3% a year, but rather 3% over the 3 year life of the contracts. The Fire Company is made up of taxpayers too and they were real team players in realizing that a conservative contract is in the best interest of Hartfords’ taxpayers.
3) The Town’s Unappropriated Fund Balance is much larger than I think it needs to be. After careful analysis of the Balance and consultations with the NYS Comptrollers Office, Washington County Treasurer and the NY Associations of Towns, I determined that the Town of Hartford should have an Unappropriated Fund Balance of around 20% of the budget. This works out to be around $215,000. This is emergency cushion money in case something drastically goes wrong in the town that would not be covered by insurance, etc. When I came into office on January 1, 2010 this balance was over $480,000. By the time 2010 is over and we add in any left over budget money not spent so far this year, this balance will be well over $500,000 dollars. It only needs to be around $215,000. We need to give this excess back to the taxpayers.
My plan is to spend down the excess cash in the Unappropriated Fund Balance until we finally get down to the 20% level. I do not want to spend this down overnight, but rather take at least 3 years to get there. This excess money is money that you already paid in taxes.
Hopefully, the amount of Townwide taxes that you paid on your old 2010 Wash. Co. Town & County Tax Bill last year will be the highest taxes that you will pay for quite a few years. It is my goal to use the old 2010 Total Town Tax levy as a landmark and see how many years we can hold back the clock and delay until we reach those 2010 numbers again.
In the meantime, Hartford’s Government will continue to sharpen its pencils, think outside the box, and become more efficient. By doing this, Hartford’s Government will be cheaper to fund and we might stretch this relief into 4 or 5 years.