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New construction keeps Milton tax rate down

Thursday, October 10, 2013
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— The tax rates in Milton would remain the same next year under the budget proposed by Town Supervisor Dan Lewza, in part because new construction is increasing the town tax base.

The tentative 2014 town budget totals $5.2 million, about $150,000 less than this year’s spending plan.

The proposed tax rate is 49 cents per $1,000 outside the village of Ballston Spa, and 35.5 cents inside the village. The rates are unchanged but the amount collected would rise from $533,000 to $541,000, because the tax base has increased by $16.5 million.

“This is due to the fact of all the building that is going on in town,” Lewza said, citing work going on in the Town Center, the area around Geyser Road and Rowland Street.

The town is trying to develop a high-density commercial district around that intersection. The Town Board earlier this month abolished the Old Mill Town planned development district so that higher-density building under the town center zoning can take place there.

“Overall, I am pleased to announce that the town of Milton is well on its way to economic recovery,” Lewza said in a budget statement. “Our town and economy are continuing to grow in unison.”

He said his hope is that the town can eliminate the property tax entirely within eight years, as commercial growth spurs increases in sales tax and other revenue.

In addition to the property tax, the town’s sources of revenue include the Saratoga County sales tax and the mortgage recording tax. In the 2014 budget proposal, there is also a $982,000 appropriation from the fund balance, the reserve of money unspent in previous budget years.

The property taxes that are going to be collected support the general fund; the town has no highway tax, thanks to other revenue sources.

Most Milton residents also pay special district taxes, depending on where they live.

There’s a townwide ambulance district, two fire protection districts and several municipal water districts.

Lewza said the budget’s total spending is down due to savings in a wide variety of areas, not any single major cut. “We’ve just tried to be really prudent in what we spent money on,” he said.

The spending plan includes $1,000 salary increases for all full-time town employees and creation of a new position under the buildings and grounds department to oversee the four town parks.

 
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