Saratoga County

Budget draft comes in slightly lower

A 2009 preliminary town budget of $15.07 million released this week continues town tradition of requ
PHOTOGRAPHER:

A 2009 preliminary town budget of $15.07 million released this week continues town tradition of requiring no town tax on residents.

The spending plan comes in lower than the 2008 town budget of $15.2 million, but town officials said the 2009 budget total is subject to change as they review the document in a series of workshops in October.

Town residents can comment on the 2009 proposed budget at a hearing that will be scheduled for early November. The Town Board will pass a final version of the spending plan by Nov. 17.

Town residents pay a highway tax of $.155 per $1,000 of assessed value, or $38.75 annually for an average home with an assessed value of $250,000. This rate is the same as in 2008. The highway department will raise an estimated $347,000 of its $4.8 million budget from the tax levy.

The town contributes $4 million from its general fund, earmarked by the Town Board to offset costs to residents and keep highway taxes stable. Town Supervisor Philip Barrett said the board has reduced the highway tax by 75 percent over the last few years.

Income to cover the town’s operating expenses comes primarily from its share of sales tax and mortgage tax revenue. A total of $10.9 million is expected to be received by the town in 2009 in sales tax revenue, and another $1.34 million is expected in mortgage tax revenue.

“We recognize that people throughout the town are struggling to pay for food, energy and other essential items,” Barrett said. “We want to continue to invest in our community and improve services to town residents while cutting costs wherever we can.”

The town’s largest expenditures are for staff salaries and benefits, community programs, solid waste management, summer recreation programs and planning department expenses such as engineering studies. Town Administrator Mike Shahen said rising fuel costs also affected this year’s budget, but as a municipality eligible to buy fuel from New York state, costs are lower than those for people paying to heat their homes and fuel their vehicles.

“We projected numbers this year for fuel that were on the higher side to give us some extra room, but we’re still keeping our fingers crossed on how the final costs will come in,” Shahen said.

With a budget surplus of about $10 million, officials said they are confident the town can weather any upcoming fluctuations in the local, state and national economy.

“We are in an enviable financial situation compared to other municipalities,” Barrett said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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