Last week, we discussed how the village/town police merger impacted the 2013 general fund budget by 7.6 percent and the total tax levy (used for tax cap purposes) by 3.4 percent. In addition, certain personnel expenses increased by over $1 million since the merger. This week, we’ll examine the Safety Net [social services] issue.
Perhaps the most unfair, sneaky and outrageous attack on Supervisor Myers is blaming her for Safety Net. However, as I will show, this situation was a “shell game” created by the previous supervisor and the current Town Board majority to give the false appearance of fiscal responsibility. Unexpected Safety Net charges impacted the 2013 general fund tax levy by 7.6 percent, the total tax levy by 3.4 percent.
As you can see from page 28 from the 2013 budget on the town website (Thanks Kelly!), Safety Net expenses began shrinking in 2010. This is because the town shifted its Safety Net charges to the county tax levy (this is known as a “relevy”). In other words, Saugerties taxpayers were still paying Safety Net, but on their county tax bills. From 2010 to 2012, the town shifted $355,000 in welfare charges to the county. Why would the old supervisor do this? The answer is simple: to manipulate the budget to falsely show a lower property tax increase.
Due to concerns this could push it over the state tax cap, the county decided to end this practice. In November, the county informed Saugerties it could not relevy the 2012 charge. The 2012 town budget, prepared by the old Supervisor, did not provide funding to cover this expense and the town lacked the cash reserves to pay the bill. The entire Town Board made the decision to pay the charges through the General Fund property tax levy. The amount budgeted was $400,000 to cover 2012 charges and anticipated 2013 charges. This pushed the town over the tax cap.
In conclusion, the facts clearly show the root of the Safety Net fiasco lies in the questionable actions of the old supervisor and the current Town Board majority. It is shameful and dishonest that they would pin the blame on Kelly Myers. In fact, this is another mess she cleaned up that will put the town of solid financial footing in the future.
For more information, visit www.saugertiesgop.blogspot.com.
Joe Roberti Jr.
Chair, Saugerties GOP