Amsterdam budget likely to irk some

The city of Amsterdam will present a $25.68 million budget plan with a controversial water rate incr

The city of Amsterdam will present a $25.68 million budget plan with a controversial water rate increase during a public hearing set for Monday night at the Riverfront Center.

Officials wrangled with proposals over the past two months trying to cut spending or find more revenue and ultimately agreed to raise water rates — capped at 3 percent increases by voters — by 9.61 percent.

Fifth Ward Alderman Richard Leggiero, who fought against boosting water rates beyond the voter-approved cap, said Friday that he’s not expecting to hear kind words from taxpayers on the proposal.

“I’m expecting the public to really speak out against it,” he said.

The water rate increase is expected to raise $436,216 in revenue both from city taxpayers and water users outside the city, including the town of Amsterdam, where users pay 1.5 times the city rate.

Another stream of added revenue will be drawn in from retired employees, who will be asked to pay 10 percent of their health insurance costs.

Retirees are the least able to pay tax increases, Leggiero said.

“I just can’t see them going after the retirees; if they want to do that, let them go after them when they do the new contracts. Hit the people that are still making a paycheck that are still able to afford this,” he said.

The budget as proposed will increase property taxes by 4.38 percent.

The tax per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value will increase by 62 cents, up to $14.85.

With the 9.61 percent increase in the water rate, the owner of a $75,000 property will pay a total tax bill of $1,388.71, up $77.54 over the current bill.

The tentative budget would hike the total tax bill by $52.74 on a $35,000 property, and the increase would be $93.04 on a $100,000 property.

Mayor Ann Thane said the tentative budget reflects the difficult fiscal situation faced throughout the country, but it prevents the loss of services residents have grown accustomed to.

“I would hope that everyone understands that the budget committee certainly understands the stressors that every taxpayer in the city of Amsterdam, and outside, are experiencing at this time, in this economy,” Thane said.

“But we are really faced with either making cuts to our labor force, which will in turn affect services we provide, or taking the route that we’ve recommended,” Thane said.

The city will hold a public budget hearing at 6:30 p.m. on Monday on the upper level of the Riverfront Center.

Categories: Schenectady County

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