The Town Board will adopt a budget Monday, Nov. 18, by which time the plan could include additional spending.
The public hearing earlier tonight on a $16.9 million budget that would decrease the tax levy .3 percent drew no speakers.
The preliminary budget does not include approximately $18,000 in spending the board has agreed upon but not yet adopted. That money would fund a year’s payment on a new vehicle for the building department and repaving a portion of the town hall parking lot.
The board will also consider adding up to $260,000 to address the town’s half-million dollar deficit. If the full $260,000 were added, the tax levy would increase approximately 2 percent- within the state’s property tax cap.
The board was expected to consider that question at the Nov. 14 hearing, but Supervisor Kelly Myers said board members received data on the tax cap impact of additional spending from the town accountant just before the meeting rather than earlier in the week as requested.
The deficit is years in the making, created by retirement costs, $200,000 for the construction of the Glasco Mini Park (which was expected to be funded through a grant), social services charges and one year of election costs, according to Myers.
The deficit is the most pressing issue; the town is able to pay its bills because of the Highway Department’s $900,000 surplus, said town accountant Gary Newkirk. But that money will be needed for highway projects and equipment, so the town needs to address its general fund deficit sooner than later.
Board members have also discussed adding some money to the budget to cover the possibility of salary increases for town employees. Contracts for the town’s union employees are up at the end of the year and the preliminary budget includes no provisions for the possibility of salary increases, which some board members feel would make it impossible to negotiate “in good faith.”
Councilwoman Leeanne Thornton said she has participated in school contract negotiations and there was always money set aside in the school budget, even in years without salary increases.
In addition, the town has $1.2 million in deferred pension obligations.
Additional money, if added, could be put toward any or all of these areas. The alternative, as several board members have phrased it, is to continue “kicking the can down the road.”