For the seventh straight year, there won’t be a tax increase for Village of New Paltz property owners, Mayor Tim Rogers said at the February 23 Village Board meeting. That’s despite spiraling health care costs, a new debt obligation for the firehouse and a plan to give raises to Village employees who aren’t getting them through union contracts — including the elected ones.
Two numbers that got a lot of focus during a discussion about the tentative budget for 2022-23 is the cost of providing health insurance to employees and the amount of revenue that comes in from Village parking spaces. Those insurance plans are going to cost $52,000 more in the coming year, in part because of rate hikes, but also because some employees are switching from individual to family plans. Parking revenue is projected to be higher, but still not as much as it was before the pandemic. The gross parking revenues are projected to be $350,000 in the upcoming fiscal year, split roughly in half between what’s collected via meters and kiosks and what’s paid later as parking fines. Of that amount, $115,000 pays for the parking employees and the costs of the equipment. The gross amount cleared half a million in the before times, but this is still 20% of revenue coming into the Village, absorbing the cost of medical and other costs without a tax increase.
Another technique used to achieve a budget without a tax increase is using $184,000 from the fund balance, the extra money left over at the end of the year that represents the emergency fund for Village operations. This is fiscally prudent, Rogers explained, because projections support the fund balance to nevertheless represent 24-28% of expenses at the end of the fiscal year. There’s no hard and fast rule on how much should be kept in Village coffers, only the guidance that it should be enough to cover unplanned expenses. Outside auditors and the state comptroller have issued positive reports about Village finances for many years.
One significant expense that is planned for is paying off the firehouse. More than $500,000 of that debt will be paid in the coming year. It’s entirely a Village obligation, but an agreement with Town officials means that half of that amount will be reimbursed from Town revenues. This is because while it’s a Village department, volunteer firefighters spend about half of their time on calls outside the Village line, in the remainder of the Town.
Mayor Rogers seemed pleased with the fact that non-union employees are again going to receive a raise comparable to what’s negotiated by union members collectively. Most of these, including the mayor, will receive a three percent bump. The trustees will get another $500 a year, which amounts to a 6.25% increase for the deputy mayor (to $8,500), and more than a seven percent raise for the other three trustees, who presently earn $7,000 annually.
This tentative budget can be altered, and may well be before trustees schedule a public hearing on what will then be a preliminary budget. That hearing could be on March 23, or in April.