Town considers layoffs, closing transfer station

The transfer station: endangered?

The town did some slicing and dicing last week, reducing the tax levy increase by half to 4.4 percent on an $11.2 million budget proposal, and offering more possible cuts that would get it under the two percent tax cap.

Supervisor Kelly Myers put $394,000 in cuts on the table last week. Of those cuts, the board would need to select $225,000 to get the tax increase under two percent. Implementing all the cuts would bring the tax levy increase to around zero percent.

The biggest cut on the table is closing the town’s transfer station, which has been losing money for years. In the most recent year, operating costs were $500,000 and revenues were $400,000, so closing it would save the town $100,000. Other possible reductions: one police department position ($70,000); one assessor’s office staff position ($60,000); one highway department position ($60,000); $21,000 by reducing the police department budget by one percent; $13,000 through hiring a part-time technology specialist for 20 hours per week at $20 per hour; $8,000 by reducing the parks budget by one percent; and hiring a grant writer ($7,000).

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A public hearing on the budget was held Nov. 7, and the final vote is planned for Nov. 19.

 

The transfer station

Of all the possible cuts, the transfer station would probably be the most apparent to the most residents. Myers attributed recent losses in its revenue to residents getting better at recycling — the station makes more money on trash. More residents have turned to curbside pickup, rather than packing up the pickup and hauling it out to West Saugerties.

Myers said possible changes to the county’s RRA (Resource Recover Agency) would influence the town’s decision. It’s possible the RRA will implement “flow control” and require private waste disposal companies to pay higher fees. If that happens, they’ll likely pass the costs on to consumers, and more residents would decide to use the transfer station instead, returning the operation to solvency.

The town has already decided to increase the fee of the annual permit from $15 to $25, which will bring in an additional $50,000, said Myers. If the transfer station does close, Saugerties residents would probably be able to use a facility in the town of Ulster. Woodstock residents, who also use the Saugerties station, are quite a bit farther away and would probably suffer more.

 

Salary issue

The board voted against proposed salary increases for the supervisor and highway supervisor. Myers had sought a $15,000 raise, from $35,000 to $50,000, in lieu of taking the town’s benefits package, saving the town several thousand dollars. In her first year, she didn’t take benefits; instead, her family was covered by her husband’s plan, which carries monthly premiums of several hundred dollars. That’s no longer affordable, she said, but she would continue with the plan if the town gave her a salary increase. Myers pointed out that her predecessor, Greg Helsmoortel, did take the town benefit, bringing his total compensation up to $50,000. She added that the town is looking at potential insurance increases that could push her benefit costs up to around $22,000, meaning the town would save about $7,000 by granting her request for a salary increase.

Board member Jimmy Bruno said he understands the math, but the public perception would be that Myers was giving herself a 40 percent raise after one year in office.

Myers said the board’s position was motivated by political rather than financial considerations.

 

There are 6 comments

    1. Matt

      I agree. Taxes are for funding public safety and the cost of administration. Cuts to public safety cannot be allowed especialy when the number of families and businesses moving in to Saugerties is increasing.

  1. Mark

    Cut! Cut! Cut! When was the last time a Police officer in Saugerties “saved a life”? With new surveillance cameras in the village do we really also need and officer walking the beat chatting with the local shop keepers. Frankly, they police spend a lot of time stopping people for traffic/speeding violations and there are permanent solutions to slowing traffic speeds and they don’t require salaries or benefits. Think outside the box!!!! When there is a marked increase in business and new homes paying taxes we can always add an officer back the force. Why is the transfer permit so cheap it should be $120 ($10 per month), that’s 1/3 of what I pay for private carting. If its save even $1,000 let Myers have her salary but she can NEVER be eligible for Town benefits again! The political risk is hers to bear.

  2. Holly Strutt

    It is shameful how little Saugerties residents get for their tax dollars. With one of the highest residential tax rates in the region, our leaders make deals to cut taxes by 50% for the private owner of the senior housing complex, yet our police department has to resort to “fundraising” from the community to afford a new police dog (both detailed in prior issues of this paper). Now our leaders are discussing closing the transfer station? Shame on them. It should not matter if the transfer station is profitable – it is a SERVICE to the community, one that we pay for in our taxes, just like schools and the police department. And remember, it’s not free to bring trash with a permit – the permit only allows you the privilege of paying per bag to bring your trash. And now the town is considering saying “thank you for the tax dollars, but you’re on your own with your trash.” The problem is only going to get worse, with tax rates so high that people are being pushed out of Saugerties to more affordable jurisdictions, and those who stay getting basically nothing for their tax dollars.

  3. Francis Cooper

    Of all the agencies and departments in town, which ones actually pay for themselves?

    While the transfer station is being held to that standard, one must ask:

    – Does the highway department pay for itself? Where are the tolls?
    – Do the police collect enough fines to pay for itself? Does URGENT?
    – Does the Supervisor’s office pay it’s way?
    – Does the library pay for itself?
    – Do the fire districts pay their own way?
    – Does the town clerk’s office pay it’s way?

    Obviously, when considering dollar-for-dollar pay-your way, the answer to these questions is a loud, “No.” These are agencies and offices that provide necessary services.

    Perhaps the question of closing the transfer station station is more complex than a simple $100,000 shortfall. When held to the same standards as the above agencies and offices, the transfer station can be seen in a better light.

    To the users of private carters, one must ask questions like how much do they charge to cart away your old couch? Tires? How about that tree that come down during Irene or Lee last year? Old computers? Junk mail? The list can go on and on….

    I might remind those of that mind set, your private carter has little competition to keep rates low, other than the low rates from carting your own to the transfer station. No competion? Just look at Time-Warner and their billing.

    A $100,000 gap isn’t fun to deal with, but there are many other agencies and departments in town that have a much larger gap.

    There’re about 20,000 town residents. $5.00 per year, per person. If your carting company has no competition, you may very well see a $5.00 per month increase: you do the math.

    The town elected our supervisor and board to solve problems, not create them: too much time has been spent on department head salary issues, you knew the salaries and benefits when you ran for office.

    It’s now time to be creative, reflect on solutions (and potential outcomes), and resolve issues.

    Or step aside.

  4. A COMMON THOUGHT

    I OFTEN WONDER WHY IS BEING A TOWN POLITICIAN A PAID SERVICE ? ( HOW MANY WOULD RUN IF IT WAS JUST FOR THE PEOPLE AND NO MONEY INVOLVED )MAYBE THEY SHOULD GET HEALTH BENIFITS ONLY . IM SORRY BUT I DO NOT FEEL IT IS A 50,000 A YEAR JOB.GIVE HER BENIFITS BUT REDUCE THE PAY . WE HAVE PEOPLE IN OUR TOWN LIVING ON LESS THE 20,000. . LETS HELP THEM AND NOTGIVE OURSELVES RAISES . LIKEVERYONE ELSE GRAB YOUR BOOT STRAPS AN LIVE WITH WHAT YOU HAVE.

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