MY NOTES ON THE TOWN BUDGET (2014) WORKSHOPS
The Germantown Board has held two workshop meetings focusing on the development of the 2014 Budget to be adopted in November. The first, held on Thursday October 17th covered a “Tentative Budget” that included all the requests from the Department heads, including pay raise and additional funding for equipment,& supplies that was thought to be desirable for the Department. Many line items remained the same as in the previous budget, some were increased, reflecting hopeful requests, and a few lines were greatly diminished or eliminated, largely because of certain circumstances that warranted the change.
Roy and the Board Members went through the whole budget, line by line, and made some decisions about certain items, such as deciding that a raise of 1.5% was a reasonable goal for wages, and that they wanted to increase the celebrations by $3,000 to enable a renewal of the Town’s Fourth of July event. Other lines were changes slightly because of determinations based on the record of this year-to-date expenditures.
On the Revenue side there were the usual blank spaces, many of which had to be filled in by estimates, such as what monies the County would establish, within their budget, to be distributed to the towns. What is the reasonable expectation for the Town’s share of the Mortgage tax, which will be based on sales not yet reflected in the existing data? There are some grant applications that could bring in revenue such as the JCAP grants that enhance the Court facilities through better security improvements. Every year the best they can do is to make a reasonable estimate.
There was extended discussion about the cost of implementing the program to rehabilitate the Lake. They are on the first year of a 3 –year program and although some progress has been made, the Board is hoping for more. Anthony Cidras, who has the job within the Maintenance Department, said that although it deems costly, the other methods available cost as much and resulted in a lake full of chemicals. He has asked for funding for several small “floating Islands’ to help purify the Lake and has asked the Board to hear a presentation from the providers about how that would help the situation. All Board members expressed the feeling that solving the problem of the Lake is worthwhile. The Lake is now cleaner than three years ago, and much of the unsightlygreen look is caused primarily by invasive weeds and not the presence of toxic chemicals.
Under Public Safety there was an increase in the Police budget request for the cost of purchasing ammunition for the new AR15 rifles. Presumably the ammo won’t be much used except for scheduled target practice and so will last for several years!
The Town Engineer line item was reduced from the Zoning and Planning Boards budget, largely because his services had not been used much in the past few years. Joel said that these Boards still need to know that, if they need the services, the funds will be there.
The Highway budget is handled separately from the “Town Supervisor’s” figures, as well as the two “Special Districts”, the Sewer District and the Lighting District. These budgets had minimal changes in expenditures and revenue estimates.
Under the Revenue category Roy suggested a raise in the Sales Tax line from an estimated $200.000 to $225.000, based on the Year-to-date receipts by the County. Most of the other estimated revenue receipts remained the same until further information is received.
At the end of the discussion Roy said he would plug in the various changes that were made to see if their reductions had brought the total resulting property tax rate down to within the required maximum increase of 01.6% as set by NY State. The meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:30 PM
The second workshop meeting took place on Saturday, October 19th at 9:00 AM.
Roy distributed the “Preliminary Budget” which incorporated the changes made at the previous meeting and some new information about revenues that Roy had received. Also there were funds estimated to be unexpended this year in the amount of $150,000 applied to the Supervisor’s budget and the same amount applied to the Highway Department. The resulting budget came in at a total amount to be raised by taxes of $584,277.00. This amount requires an increase of 1.62% over the rate for last year, and within the Cap.
This “preliminary Budget” will be presented to the public at a Public Hearing to be held at Town Hall on November 7th at 7PM and may be adopted after the Hearing or , if changes need to be made, adopted at the following Thursday, November 14th.
People often complain about understanding the split-up categories within the Budget, but the format is one that is mandated by the State of NY. Those who have sat through the decision-making sessions learn to understand them better, and, although there may be some interesting nugget of change in one or two line items that seem significant, the bottom line is the new tax rate.
Any Questions? You can ask me—I might know. And you can ask Don Westmore or Roy Brown or Joel Craig. But if you have a fundamental question, attend the Public Hearing and you may find the answer!
Transcribed as well as I can,
Kay Abraham 537-540