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Southern Ulster TimesLocal town 2018 budgets stay under tax cap

Local town 2018 budgets stay under tax cap

By law towns have to have their budgets for 2018 approved by late November. All three towns in our readership area – Lloyd, Marlborough, and Plattekill – met the deadline and passed their budgets for next year.

Town of Lloyd
The Town of Lloyd approved a $10,827,147 budget for 2018. After applying expected revenues of $2,787,506 and $483,000 in un-expended funds, and subtracting the fire district taxes of $1,255,011, the amount needed to be raised in taxes is $6,301,630.

Supervisor Paul Hansut said salaries are the same as last year for all elected officials.

In dollars, Hansut said a taxpayer with a home assessed at $300,000 will see an increase of $30 if they are outside the water/sewer district; $30 if inside the water/sewer district and $6 if inside just the water district compared to this year.

Hansut said according to calculations received from the NYS Comptroller’s office, the town is under the state tax cap limit by $33,450. He thanked bookkeeper Karen McPeck and his secretary Kate Jonietz “for their diligent work. There is a lot that goes into this. Sometimes feelings are hurt and people are unhappy with what goes on, but we get the end result, which is being under the cap for the fifth year in a row.”

In a subsequent interview, Hansut said the eternal struggle is between revenues and expenditures.

“You try to keep it under the cap and we’re happy we’re once again able to do that,” he said. “This year the cap percentage was a little higher so that was able to help us out a little bit. There were no cuts in services, no layoffs and we didn’t have to use any of our carry-over, which is $94,000 that was not spent from last year.”

Hansut said the PBA contract is three years out and has not yet been settled with the town. It is scheduled for arbitration on December 13th in Albany but Hansut is hopeful an agreement can be reached before that date. He indicated there were some questions about restricting the Police Chief’s discretionary abilities, “but nothing that was really major. They went through three or four mediations. There were just some minor things we couldn’t get hashed out but we’re hoping that by the [December] workshop we can have a Memo of Agreement.”

Town of Marlborough
The 2018 budget appropriation for the Town of Marlborough is $9,405,687. Revenues are estimated at $2,119,607 and the town is using $75,000 from their fund balance to ease the tax burden. Final calculations leave the town tax at $3,651,486 and the highway tax at $2,227,877 for a total tax levy of $5,879,363.

Supervisor Al Lanzetta said during the budget season for 2018 he, along with Councilman Scott Corcoran and Budget Officer Chris Wilklow met with all the department heads to determine their fiscal needs for next year. He said the most challenging figure to deal with was the 14.23% rise in medical health insurance benefits for employees. It jumped from $494,076 to $564,393, a $70,317 hike from this year.

Lanzetta said the board decided not to use as much of the fund balance as they have in the past. He pointed out that sometime up to $300,000 was tapped from this fund and last year $175,000 was utilized. He said in 2018 the town is under the 2% tax cap and is using only $75,000 from the fund balance.

Lanzetta said the tax rate is 8.11 for 2018, leaving a home assessed at $400,000 paying $64 more in taxes than this year. Homeowners with an assessment of $300,000 will pay a $48 increase and it continues to drop, with a $150,000 home assessment paying $24 more than this year.

To shave the budget a bit, Lanzetta, with the cooperation of the Police Chief, decided not to purchase a vehicle for the Police Department next year. In addition, the board cut $80,000 from the Highway budget “on the machinery side.” Town employees, however, will be receiving a 2% raise in salaries.

Lanzetta said it is always a balancing act to provide services while keeping under the tax cap, something the board has been able to do for the past few years.

“We’re getting to the point where we’re at the bare bones and the board doesn’t really want to start nailing our fund balance to the point where a lot of towns are now where they have to borrow money because they have exhausted their fund balances to keep taxes low,” he said. “It’s a vicious cycle really when you think about it [but] we’re in a lot better shape than most towns in Ulster County I would say. We’re holding our own in the town of Marlborough and this board is very conscious of the taxpayer and doing the right thing.”

Town of Plattekill
The Town of Plattekill approved a budget of $5,312,655 and expect to bring in revenues of $1,021,179 and use $220,500 from their fund balance, leaving $4,070,976 to be collected in taxes. This levy is $809 less than the 2017 budget, a drop of -0.02%.

Supervisor Joe Croce thanked the Town Board and all of the town department heads for their work on the 2018 budget.

“These budgets get tougher every year and we’re trying to do our best to control spending and limit any kind of excesses and I think we’ve done a very good job,” he said. “We’ve had no tax increase for the last five budgets. I am very proud of that and I believe the rest of the Town Board is also. We are trying to be very good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.”

By Mark Reynolds

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