New Paltz Village Board members will not see a raise in this year’s $9.1 million budget, although deputy mayor KT Tobin suggested at the table last week that the mayor deserves one. The 2018-19 village budget carries a zero percent tax levy increase, staving off rising health-care costs with a sound fiscal score and innovative contract negotiations.
“We have the lowest possible fiscal score,” said the mayor, Tim Rogers, and he credited treasurer Nancy Branco’s aggressive debt-management style for that fact. Where the score in New Paltz stands at 1.7%, similar villages have figures hovering around 50% instead.
This year’s union contract provides one percent raises for each of three years, to which members agreed in return for “contingent compensation” should certain savings targets be reached. One-time payments will be made if savings are realized in areas such as non-revenue water and health insurance premiums. The latter, Rogers acknowledged, is a particularly difficult one to achieve. Non-unionized employees, who received a one percent raise last year, will see a one-and-a-half percent hike in their paychecks this time around.
Revenue to offset rising costs includes hiking parking ticket fees and making the meters active on Sundays for the first time, as well as catching up on fire inspections by making the part-time inspector into a full-time job. Expenses will include paying for that inspector, additional meal and boot allowances for workers, an election and insulating a pole barn to better store and maintain village trucks.
There’s also a plan to eliminate the public access coordinator position, one which doesn’t sit well with Anton Stewart, who chairs the public access committee. Stewart is of the opinion that the franchise fee paid by Spectrum for cable subscribers carries with it an obligation to fund that position until a robust, volunteer-driven public access channel can be realized. Mayor Tim Rogers understands the fee to be for use of village rights-of-way, and doesn’t think that cable television deserves taxpayer money any more or less than other forms of media, or for services such as firefighting.
Stewart was asked to provide a more detailed budget of the coordinator’s activities, along with his plan to wean the committee off of that revenue stream.