The Saugerties Town Council has approved a budget for 2019 that will increase spending by 0.5 percent from this year’s $12.8 million plan.
Changes from last year include cutting a sergeant’s position from the police department, increases in town employees’ benefits, and energy-efficiency measures that Town Supervisor Fred Costello says will decrease the cost of government. The payment of some of Saugerties’ outstanding debts to the state is also addressed in the plan.
“In 2010, 2011 and 2012 when the stock market was collapsing, the state pension fund was going down as well. As those went down, those margins did not adequately represent what the state owed out to pensioners. The state sent all the local communities bills to say, ‘Hey, in order to keep the state pension fund healthy, you owe x amount.’ At the time, Saugerties didn’t have the resources to pay those bills. We borrowed money from the state to do that, this budget pays off some of that debt,” explained Costello. “This budget erases two and a half years of pension payments.”
The town has budgeted to pay off a $45,000 amortization for state employee pensions and a $35,000 one for police pensions.
Although the police department received 1.6 percent more funding this year, Costello says that they will see some restructuring this year. However, the hotly debated K-9 position that was vacated by Sergeant Michael Craft will be filled by Officer Jen Culver and a new K-9, a Belgian malinois named Romulus. The pair will begin their training later this month.
The 2019 townwide tax levy is $6,883,689, up $99,647 from this year’s $6,784,042. The 2019 general town outside village levy is $349,864, up $49,059 from this year’s $300,805. The 2019 highway levy is $2,991,636, up $42,034 from this year’s $2,949,602.
Village residents will see the tax rate go from this year’s $4.9607 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $4.8631, a decrease of 1.35 percent. Town residents will see their tax rate decrease as well, going from 2018’s $7.2541 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $7.12186, a drop of 1.595 percent.
The town added $68 million in total assessed value, going from $1.90 billion to $1.968 billion. The average assessment in Saugerties for 2019 is $206,470.
Employee benefit costs are up 2.8 percent from this year at $1.52 million and the salaries of all elected officials remain unchanged.
Costello said that the Council’s long-term budgeting goals include developing a fund balance that could withstand the costs incurred by a catastrophic natural disaster.
“We don’t have quite enough fund balance to weather a storm like 2010 and 2011 and we want to get the town government on a good footing where we have a sizable fund balance again. I think this budget will help get us closer to that.”
The budget can be viewed in its entirety by visiting townsaugerties.digitaltowpath.org, where it’s posted on the front page.