New Paltz preliminary budget increase close to 4%
The New Paltz preliminary 2018 town budget, as presently laid out, would result in a tax increase that’s just shy of four percent, supervisor Neil Bettez said. “Actual spending is down by one percent from last year,” Bettez explained, but revenue has also dropped. In addition, the fund balance — money left over from the prior year, which can be used to reduce the tax levy increase if doing so leaves the town with a big enough cushion for emergencies — is also smaller, meaning that using it to provide tax relief may be difficult. No pay increases for elected officials are anticipated.
— Terence P Ward
Gardiner faces 7.9 percent budget increase for 2018
The Town of Gardiner is bracing itself for some fiscal shocks in 2018, as residents clamor for overhauls of the town’s outdated Master Plan and a Zoning Code that was not designed to cope with some types of contemporary development pressures, such as “glamping” and solar farms. At last week’s workshop meeting, town supervisor Marybeth Majestic presented the town board with a tentative municipal budget for 2018 that reflects anticipated cost increases for attorneys’ and consultants’ fees, in addition to the usual increases in health and retirement benefits costs for town employees.
Majestic told the board that the overall projected increase in allocations was about $146,000, or 7.9 percent: well above the state-mandated tax cap. “About $25,000 of that is health insurance,” she noted, which had gone up some 17 percent for town employees and 12.24 percent for retirees. She said that she had budgeted an additional $15,000 for attorney services and $17,500 for planning and zoning consultants. “I’m imagining there could be some lawsuits brought against the town,” the supervisor said.
In addition, Majestic called for the allocation of about $10,000 toward the cost of new bookkeeping software, estimated as costing $32,000 to $35,000, to replace the extremely dated system that the town government is currently using, which itself is making budgeting more of a challenge. “There are zero lines where we know expenses are coming,” noted councilman David Dukler in looking over the draft 2018 budget. “We don’t have the software to tell us that that’s been encumbered.”
Also looming heavily over fiscal prognostications for the coming year is the knowledge that the Clove Road bridge has been designated “code yellow” and direly needs replacement, with no source of guaranteed state assistance as yet identified. “There’s nothing in here for bridges,” Majestic warned as the Town Board perused the Highway Department budget.
On a more upbeat note, the supervisor explained that an allocation of $80,000 to replace the Highway Department’s no-longer-serviceable skid steer with a new one might be significantly reduced. She said that highway superintendent Brian Stiscia had identified an opportunity to purchase a used model for only $17,411, with favorable financing terms. If this were accomplished, the 7.9 percent overall budget increase might be reduced to about 4.5 percent, according to Majestic.
The supervisor asked the board members to examine the draft budget line by line and make suggestions at the next meeting on October 10. “We might have to do a special meeting, so keep your calendars open,” Majestic said.
— Frances Marion Platt
Tentative 2018 Rosendale budget projects 2.5 percent tax increase
Rosendale’s plan to improve its municipal wastewater treatment plant got a significant boost last week when the office of governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the awarding of nearly $34 million in grants to support 24 essential drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects in the mid-Hudson Valley. Under the landmark $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017, announced by Governor Cuomo in April, these grants are part of $255 million in funding available for municipalities statewide to support critical water quality infrastructure projects.
Rosendale was the only town in Ulster County to receive such a grant in this round of funding. The $620,000 award constitutes a 25 percent match that will help leverage other funds toward the purchase and installation of equipment to upgrade the treatment plant as part of the $2,480,000 wastewater project. Now that the state funding has been announced, the Town Board is expected to commence the State Environmental Quality Review process for the upgrade. “We have until February to do the closing,” town supervisor Jeanne Walsh told the board at its October 4 meeting. ++
Tentative 2018 Rosendale budget projects 2.53 percent tax increase
Last week, Rosendale Town Supervisor Jeanne Walsh presented the Rosendale Town Board with her tentative budget for 2018 and asked them to consider a tax cap override for this cycle. Totaling $4,445,454 in appropriations, including the General, Highway, Water and Sewer Funds, the proposed town budget would require an additional $71,296 in taxes to be raised, an increase of 2.53 percent over 2017.
While the Highway and Water Funds will see significant increases under the new budget, these are partially counterbalanced by a significant drop in Sewer Fund expenditures following the payoff of a bond and a nearly flat General Fund appropriation, up only .13 percent. In fact, Walsh pointed out, the 2.53 percent overall increase could conceivably be brought below this year’s 1.84 percent tax cap if she were to utilize about $19,000 in unexpended funds allocated for 2017. “But I didn’t like putting a negative in the General Fund” when preparing the draft budget, she said.
Nevertheless, the supervisor felt that the override was warranted as a precautionary measure. “We’re right on the cusp,” she told the board members, who will be asked to set a November 1 public hearing for the tax cap override discussion at their next meeting on Wednesday, October 11.
— Frances Marion Platt