A lack of big-ticket spending items has allowed the town to present a tentative 2017 budget with a 1.56 percent tax levy increase that, with adjustments due the town, meets the state tax cap.
“There are no new policies, no big building projects,” Supervisor Jeremy Wilber said of the proposed $7,803,230 spending plan, which is an increase of 1.921 percent. Figures do not include the fire and library districts, which have budgets adopted by separate regulating boards.
The amount to be raised by taxes for the general fund, highway fund, water, sewer and various lighting districts is $5,829,112, an increase of $89,877, or 1.56 percent over the current year.
Water and sewer rates are unchanged.
Wilber said the town is able to hold down the levy thanks to a surplus, primarily from lower-than-expected energy costs and high-than-expected revenue from sales and mortgage taxes, and building permit fees.
The state tax cap is 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. But there are many exceptions and there is a formula towns use to arrive at their allowed tax levy increase.
Woodstock is allotted a tax base growth factor of 0.88 percent and a levy growth factor of 0.68 percent. Coupled with a carryover of $20,000 from the current year, the town can raise a levy of $5,829,112, or a 1.56 percent increase.
However, some of the fund balance was allocated to replenish the highway fund, which was used to finance the replacement of three bridges over the past two years, said Wilber.
That resulted in a 5 percent increase in the highway levy, from $1,780,131 to $1,869,693.
Salary increases are around 2 percent across all departments, though department heads and officials received a bit more.
Wilber’s pay will be $54,185, or 3.3 percent over the current salary of $52,470; Town Clerk Jackie Earley, $49,183, or 2.5 percent over the current $47,980; Highway Superintendent Mike Reynolds, $66,421, or 2.5 percent over the current $64,797; and Town Board members, $10,395 each, or 2.5 percent over the current $10,141.
The Assessor’s Office personnel budget dropped by $20,000 because of a reduction in some staffing from full-time to part-time.
Professional fees for planning and zoning have decreased because the town doesn’t expect to make any zoning amendments. A big list of changes expected to be adopted by the Town Board soon was paid for by fees collected this year.
Expenses for increasingly popular senior programs have increased by $7400 to $44,000.
Budget public hearings will be held October 18 for the Water District (7:15 p.m.), On-site Sewer District (7:20 p.m.) and Hamlet Sewer District (7:25 p.m.), at the town offices, 45 Comeau Drive. No date has been set for public hearings for the other parts of the budget.