Amsterdam water, retiree costs to rise

Retired employees will start paying a portion of their health insurance under a 2011-12 budget appro

Retired employees will start paying a portion of their health insurance under a 2011-12 budget approved by the Common Council this week.

The $25.27 million budget will hike property taxes by 4.38 percent and increase water rates by 2.26 percent, according to a breakdown provided by Controller Heather Reynicke.

City officials spent three months chipping away at $2.6 million in additional spending department heads requested at the start of the budget process and ultimately rejected a proposal to increase water rates by nearly 10 percent.

Residents decried the water rate increase proposal during a public hearing because it would have eliminated a 3 percent cap voters instituted during a 2004 referendum; retirees complained that instituting a cost for their health insurance was unfair.

The city will save about $200,000 with retiree health insurance contributions, amounting to 10 percent, and another major savings, $700,000, came from changing health insurance providers, Reynicke said.

Estimates for revenues the city earns through fines in criminal court were boosted by $90,000 based on a review of earnings over the past six months, Reynicke said. The police department saved another $114,000 by eliminating two positions through retirements.

Positions eliminated to balance the budget include the city’s animal control officer, a janitor at the public safety facility and a seasonal worker in the Recreation Department.

Reynicke said the city would be left with $600,000 in fund balance but contingency funding was dropped to $156,000.

The sewer use fee will decline by 1.09 percent, and the sanitation fee, for collecting refuse, will increase by 0.03 percent.

The tax rate will increase from the current $14.23 per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value to $14.85 per $1,000.

The rate hike reflects a $31 tax increase on a $50,000 home, bringing the city tax bill to $742.50.

The city’s new fiscal year begins July 1.

Categories: Schenectady County

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