Saratoga County

Charlton bulk item pickup falls to budget ax

The town will cut the popular roadside bulk item pickup and scale back its annual Party in the Park

The town will cut the popular roadside bulk item pickup and scale back its annual Party in the Park because of budget concerns, town Supervisor Alan R. Grattidge said.

The decisions are being made now because early indications are that expected town revenues such as the mortgage tax will fall short.

Eliminating the springtime roadside bulk collection program will save about $7,500, Grattidge said. The town had contracted with County Waste, a private waste hauler, to do the bulk item pickups of things like old appliances if they were left curbside. The service was free to residents.

“It was a service we liked providing, but we thought that this is the year to postpone it, and then maybe we can look again in the fall,” Grattidge said.

The town budget totals $1.6 million and relies primarily on revenue from the Saratoga County sales tax and a county mortgage recording tax. Charlton does not have a town property tax.

Grattidge said officials became concerned about their revenue picture in January, when mortgage tax receipts totalled $1,200, or about 90 percent less than normal. The mortgage tax recovered somewhat in February, to $6,700, but Grattidge said that’s still well below the historic average.

The mortgage tax tracks closely with the amount of real estate sales activity, and those sales have suffered locally in recent months. Grattidge thinks they will recover, specifically because of plans for an Advanced Micro Devices-affiliated computer chip factory to be built in Malta.

“We look forward to whatever benefits AMD provides. In the long term, it will be good, but for the short term, we’re concerned,” Grattidge said.

In addition to eliminating bulk item pickup, Grattidge said Charlton has opted not to participate in a multi-town hazardous waste collection day, as it did last year.

Also, the annual Party in the Park, held as part of Founders’ Day Weekend in June, will be scaled back. The $8,500 appropriation will be cut to $2,200, which is the amount of a county Youth Bureau grant for the party. Grattidge said he hopes private fundraising can replace some of the party activities that are being cut, including fireworks.

Cuts in the highway department’s budget are also being contemplated while town officials wait to learn whether the state’s highway aid program will have proposed cuts restored with federal stimulus package money.

“We just want to be cautious as we go into the year,” Grattidge said.

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