The Kingston Common Council unanimously adopted a budget of $43.1 million for 2021 at its December 1 meeting. The budget keeps the tax levy of $17,650,940 unchanged and represents a 3 percent cut in spending over last year.
City tax rates are estimated at $8.98 per $1,000 of assessed value for residential properties and $14.25 for commercial “non-homestead” parcels. The council also approved the city’s sewer rate at an amount of $6.20 per unit, which is up $0.01 per unit.
“I’d like to recognize Mayor Steve Noble in terms of keeping our tax levy at the same rate every year he’s been in office,” said aldermen Rennie Scott-Childress at the Tuesday meeting. “I appreciate the work he’s done to keep the tax levy at the same rate so our taxpayers are finding relief over time.”
One of the changes made by the aldermen during the council meeting include the removal of the funding for a vacant project manager position, which was originally proposed by Noble. The removal reduced the budget by $87,138.
Aldermen Douglas Koop and Don Tallerman were opposed to the removal of the position.
“We depend so much on grants and we have a spectacular record in getting grants and I think that will continue to accelerate,” said Koop. “I think over the long haul our grant writers are doing a superb job and we want to allow them to focus on getting more grants, therefore we need someone to manage the projects.”
The aldermen also voted to add a part-time pay budget line in the Building Safety department. This would allow the code enforcement officer to work additional hours if needed. Additionally, the council adopted a resolution to fund a vacant engineering technician position for the full year, rather than the half year proposed in the mayor’s budget.. This change comes at a cost of $35,004 for the general fund and $11,668 for the sewer fund, with a total cost of $46,672.
The council opposed (0-9) the move of the senior account clerk and reimbursement from the housing department to the economic development department, as they all favored keeping “the status quo,” as alderman Scott-Childress put it, which is also the advice that corporation counsel gave.
Other changes the aldermen made to the proposed 2021 budget include:
An increase to part time salaries and benefits in the zoning department by $12,284. Of this amount, $10,097 is salary and $2,287 is benefits. (9-0)
An increase of $10,000 to the city’s contingency fund in the case that the council needs to hire its own attorney, aside from relying on corporation counsel. (6-3)