As the Saugerties Village Board opened its public hearing on the 2022-2023 budget, council members praised Village Treasurer Paula Kerbert for the work she put into the budget and for the final result.
“It’s a good budget,” said Trustee Don Hackett. “Paula did a great job, she attended a lot of meetings to get that budget to where it’s at.
Mayor Bill Murphy said he and the board worked to keep the budget well within reason with an increase of about $70,000, which he said is really not that much, given the problems dealing with the Covid pandemic. And “the tax rate is down, about 7 percent. In our previous budget, the tax rate was $5.95 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, this time it’s $5.53 per thousand.” The result is that “if your assessment didn’t increase, you will save on taxes. Many municipalities keep the assessment the same when the value of the municipality’s real estate increases, but we decided to give the added value back to the taxpayers by lowering the rate.”
The budget, as presented on Monday, April 4, shows total expenditures of $2,663,323, versus $789,315 in income and an appropriated fund balance of $110,795, leaving $1,874,008 to be raised through property taxes, an increase of $77,714.
The budget shows a tax rate of 5.53 per $1,000 of assessed value, down from $5.91 this year.
One major increase in the budget was the Fire Department equipment line, which jumped from $36,880 to $78,600, an increase of $42,720. This was largely due to the first payment on a new fire truck, Murphy said, though the increase was partially offset by a decrease of $9,790 in Fire Department contractual expenditures. Trustee Vincent Buono went through the equipment budget, picking out the larger expenditures and asking whether they needed to be so high. In each case trustee Brian Martin, who represents the Fire Department on the board, explained the use of the equipment and why the expense was justified. In many cases, the department is required to meet certain levels of equipment. Buono said he would not do anything to weaken the Fire Department and supports their role in the residents’ safety. “If they show up at your house, or my house, I want them to have the best equipment possible,” Buono said, adding that he just wanted to be clear on some of the big ticket items.
Some of the largest changes in spending between this year and next, as shown in the budget are:
• A decline in the Village justice personal services line from $71,125 to $49,587. Kerbert explained that last year, the courts were closed because of the Covid epidemic and this year they have been working on a shorter schedule, so the judges are not putting in as many hours as in the years prior to the epidemic.
• Unallocated insurance increased from $50,000 to $65,000.
• Personal service salary, in parking, cost $5,800 in the current fiscal year; it was reduced to zero in next year’s budget. The line for contractual expenses in parking dropped from $5,000 to $2475, or $2,525.
• The salary component of street maintenance increased from $341,424 to a budgeted $384,378, a jump of $42,954. At the same time, the contractual expense declined by $115,825, from $407,825 in 2021-22 to a budgeted $292,000 in 2022-2023.