Town budget hearing tonight, tax hike will be considered

Town Hall SQThe public hearing on the 2014 town budget will be held Thursday, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. at the Senior Center.

While the preliminary budget calls for almost the same amount of spending as last year’s, the big question for the board will be whether to add more spending to address the town’s deficit and pension obligations.

As of last week, the preliminary budget called for a total of $12.4 million dollars to be raised by taxes, a decrease of .3 percent. (Basically, a “flat” budget according to town accountant Gary Newkirk.)


That total includes the town’s general fund, which is directly controlled by the Town Board, as well as the Highway Department, library budget and bond and ambulance district — which apply to all residents — as well as fire, light, water and sewer districts that only apply to parts of town.

The town’s general town-wide fund of $6.1 million is currently about $3,000 less than 2013 spending, while the line applying only to town residents outside the village decreased $20,000 and the Highway Department budget decreased $40,000. The three lines combined total .8 percent less than the 2013 budget.

The board needs to decide before next week’s budget deadline whether to add more spending to address its $500,000 deficit, $1.2 million in deferred pension obligations, and possible salary increases for town employees, whose contracts are up at the end of the year. (This budget includes no money for salary or benefit increases, which some board members feel is a sign negotiations would not be in “good faith.”)

Newkirk advised the board at last week’s final budget workshop to consider dealing with its deficit first. He was instructed to provide the board with several scenarios that would raises taxes to address these issues while staying within the state’s 2 percent cap on property tax increases.

Based on scheduling, the public hearing shouldn’t last more than an hour: A discussion on school consolidation hosted by the League of Women Voters has the room at 7 p.m.

The board that will vote on this budget is different than the one that will implement it: Republican Supervisor Kelly Myers was defeated by former six-term supervisor Greg Helsmoortel, an Independence Party member supported by that party and the Democratic Party, and Councilman Bruce Leighton, also an Independence Party member backed by the Democrats, was defeated by Republican Bill Schirmer.

The Frank D. Greco Senior Center is located at the corner of Market and Robinson streets.