Schenectady County

Rotterdam budget holds jump in taxes

Rotterdam residents could see their taxes spike by as much as 11.36 percent as a result of dramatic

Rotterdam residents could see their taxes spike by as much as 11.36 percent as a result of dramatic increases in state retirement rates and a slight decrease in revenue streams, according to the town’s tentative 2011 budget.

Supervisor Frank Del Gallo said the $21.2 million spending plan will maintain the present level of services and reduce reliance on the town’s fund balance by about $375,000. But a 35 percent increase in retirement rates coupled with a 15 percent jump in health insurance premiums and a 23.7 percent boost to workers compensation insurance means the town will need to shed at least three jobs to stave off an even greater tax increase.

“While other methods were proposed, they were not successful in getting the desired results,” he said after presenting the budget to the Town Board Tuesday. “I regret having to take this step, but I have no other choices to consider.”

Del Gallo had originally proposed offering retirement incentives to four eligible workers in an effort he said was aimed at staving off job cuts. Board members ultimately rejected the target list he submitted last month.

The tentative budget increases residential taxes 37 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The owner of a $175,000 home would pay about $64.75 more in taxes for a total of $650, not including special districts.

Non-residential property owners could see an increase of 82 cents per $1,000 under the town’s dual tax rate. This reflects a 14.7 percent increase over last year’s figures, according to the spending plan.

Savings included the removal of Del Gallo’s $13,000 annual salary and a $35,490 typist position from his office. In addition, a $3,178 part-time clerical position was eliminated. Funding for a $50,060 appraisal technician was cut from the assessor’s office, as well as $10,000 for a typist position that went unfilled this year. In the police budget, a $65,995 youth services counselor position was cut.

The budget restores much of the funding to the town attorney’s office that was cut by the administration of Steve Tommasone last year. Last year, the Republicans reduced the office’s $249,000 budget to $135,000.

This year’s spending plan includes a new town attorney line item for $22,000 and increases town attorney fees to $75,000. The 2011 budget also boosts allocations for litigation fees, tax case attorney fees and labor attorney fees.

Del Gallo said he’s in the process of finding a new assistant attorney to replace Michael Godlewski, who left the town this week to take a job with the county. He said Town Attorney Joseph Liccardi will handle the office himself until someone is hired.

“We’re shopping around for one,” he said.

The town clerk’s office will also see an increase in funding. The tentative budget allocates $50,350 for the town clerk, includes $10,500 for a part-time clerk and increases the salary for the deputy clerk to $32,500.

Police spending — the largest portion of the general fund — is reduced by about $31,000 to $5.03 million. However, the police chief, deputy chief and three lieutenants will all receive modest raises in the budget; police overtime was also increased by about $50,000.

Funding for Rotterdam Emergency Medical Services was eliminated. Last year, the nonprofit ambulance company secured $120,000 in funding from the Tommasone administration.

Del Gallo said the budget could still use some tweaking. He urged board members to study the proposal closely to determine where additional cuts can be made.

“I welcome the opportunity to review and discuss my budget proposal with the entire Town Board during the month of October in an effort to come up with further ways to cut costs in 2011,” he said.

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