Schenectady County

Niskayuna budget plan proposes nearly 3 percent tax hike

Niskayuna residents would see a property tax rate increase of just under 3 percent for 2011 under


Niskayuna residents would see a property tax rate increase of just under 3 percent for 2011 under the proposed town budget.

Overall, appropriations would increase just over $77,000 for total town spending of just under $13 million, which includes $3.8 million in highway spending.

Also included in the budget is the elimination of one full-time position, a receptionist that had been budgeted at $43,000.

There is also an addition of a part-time position in senior program staff, budgeted at an extra $32,000.

“That’s the good thing that’s happening in the budget,” Supervisor Joe Landry said of the part-time addition, “The rest is very lean, a lot of belt-tightening.”

The additional part-time senior position will be in addition to the $47,000 already budgeted for part-time staff. Current permanent part-time staff would be kept on, Landry said.

Under the proposed budget, homeowners would see a tax rate of just over $2.31 per $1,000 of assessed value for 2011. Businesses would see a rate of $4.72 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Those numbers compare to $2.25 and $4.19 for homeowners and businesses in the 2010 spending plan.

Driving increases in the budget, Landry said, were retirement mandates, amounting to a 37 percent increase in expenses there. There was also a 15 percent increase in health care insurance costs.

“We had to crack down and reduce appropriation numbers for equipment purchases, training, contractual, every aspect of the budget, to save as much money as we could to continue on without a very large tax increase,” Landry said.

One place seeing a cut is in materials. In the highway fund, $575,000 was appropriated for 2010 for asphalt. In the tentative 2011 budget, that number was dropped to $408,000.

“We’ve been doing quite a lot of paving throughout the town in the last three years,” Landry said. “Unfortunately, we can’t continue to fund it the way we had the last couple of years.”

There’s also the possibility of bonding, Landry said.

Some revenues have also been going down.

Revenues from the mortgage tax, paid when homes are sold or refinanced, amounted in 2007 to just under $900,000 in revenue. That number dropped to $761,000 in 2009 and was budgeted for just $700,000 in 2010.

In the proposed 2011 budget, mortgage tax revenue is estimated to be $650,000.

“You can always inflate revenues,” Landry said of the estimated $50,000 drop in mortgage tax for 2011, “but I try not to do that. I try be as realistic as I can with the revenues.”

Regarding the added senior program staff part-timer, Landry said he expects the position to work on outreach to seniors to ensure seniors know about all available programs. The added staff member will increase resources for that, he said.

In surplus, the proposed 2011 budget includes $286,800. It also includes $60,000 in appropriated reserves. No surplus would be used for the highway fund.

In the 2010 budget, $273,000 in surplus was used for the general fund and $300,000 for the highway fund.

The property tax rate increase in 2010 was about 2.85 percent.

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