Town of Germantown Budget Workshops Oct.6th,2014
On Monday, October 6th, the Board met to discuss the proposed budget for 2015. The proposal in their hands (the “Tentative Budget”)was based on Department requests and estimates, including a general 3% wage increase. The process is that in this first meeting the Board goes over the figures and engages in discussion about anything they find unclear or otherwise comes to their attention. The Supervisor, after taking in the comments of the Board members, develops his recommended “Preliminary Budget” and presents that version at the second meeting, scheduled for Monday October 13th. The Board will seek consensus about the final numbers and that version will be presented at the Public Hearing that will be held at 6 PM before the October Board Meeting on October 27th. The Budget, including any last minute alterations, will be adopted within the Board Meeting
One of the aspects of developing a municipal budget in NY is that the amount of financial contributions from the state, the county and other tax revenues are essentially unknown, so assumptions are made about what is expected, This year we expect the same level as we had in the past year. (An optimist, considering the economy, might expect even more.)Also the anticipated expenses are close to the prior year’s expenses. This results in a Tentative Budget showing an amount to be raised by taxes as slightly lower than we had last year. It’s a good position to be in as the final budget is completed.
The Board was led through the budget page by page by the Supervisor, aided in some cases by the Department heads, some of whom were in the audience. Changes from last year’s figures were explained and, if of any substance , discussed among the Board members.
Anthony Cidras, Department head of Parks & Maintenance told the Board that he had increased the Part-time labor costs and that the electric usage last year had been reduced by almost 80% from the installation of the solar panels.
The Parks Department budget had an increase of $2500. for the addition of clay to the ground to improve the ball fields. This sparked a lively discussion about how to satisfy the needs of sports clubs (baseball and soccer). It seems that it is hard to find agreement about what and how to make the fields better for use and the clubs decision-making process seems inscrutable. Matthew wants the Town to take a more proactive role. This is a topic that will generate more discussion I believe.
Anthony is enthusiastic about the purchase of a BOBCAT that will make snow removal in the hamlet and around the buildings very much more efficient. He has asked for this before. This year the cost (and use) will be split between Parks and the Highway Department, which will have the use of the machine for some of its work as well. The town of Clermont has a Bobcat also and we have coordinated the purchase of the various specialty attachments so that they are not duplicated and both towns will use the machine.
The Sewer Department has increased its budget because George Sharpe Jr. will now be full time, instead of working and paid half time in the Highway Department. The DEC is monitoring Germantown’s progress in repairing the System and requires a full time “Clerk of the Works” to supervise the work being done. The Town is awaiting approval of a large grant to cover the most costly aspect of the comprehensive project but they need to continually show progress until they hear if they get the grant.
Joel tells the Board that the Town may be liable for the repair of lateral connecting lines (from houses to the main sewer line) because of wording in the original contract when the sewer line was built. It was apparently an incentive to gain more participants.
Janet Crawford says the agreement was written into the deeds of the homes. The Town will also look into increasing the Sewer District rates, which have been increased only once before since the beginning. There is a lot of uncertainty about how the Town and the Sewer District will cope with the looming cost issues.
The Police Department budget was increased by $6,000.00 to reflect the first of 7 annual payments for a new police car. Matthew asks about the cost for the liability insurance for the Department and us told that there is one policy that covers all employees, buildings, equipment and the bonding of personnel, in short, everything excluding Health Insurance for the Town and it would be hard to break out the specific cost of the Police Department.
The History Department has a small increase in allocations, but probably not enough to really cover the cost of the many repairs needed for the Parsonage. Town is hoping for grant funding and contributions.
Joel tells the audience that this budget includes funding for the Town Information sign to be erected at the corner of Main Street and Palatine Park Road, and also for enhanced lighting for the hamlet. He will bring back his “Preliminary Budget” to the next Workshop on October 13th.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 and the next budget meeting will be held at 7 PM on Monday the 13th at Town Hall
To the best of my ability
Kay Abraham 537-5404