Schenectady County

Glenville struggles to meet property tax cap amid escalating costs

Glenville officials are facing rising costs and shrinking revenues as they try to develop a 2012 bud

Glenville officials are facing rising costs and shrinking revenues as they try to develop a 2012 budget that stays under the new state-imposed 2 percent cap on property tax increases.

Supervisor Chris Koetzle said about $450,000 to $500,000 in spending cuts is needed in the budgets submitted to him by department heads. “That’s our intention to stay within the cap. You look at the challenges ahead of us. It’s going to be a real difficult task to try to stay within the cap.”

The current total budget including fees and special use fees is $18.2 million, about $5.5 million of which comes from property taxes. Staying under the tax cap would mean the town would be able to raise only about $100,000 more in property taxes.

Koetzle will be submitting his tentative budget at the end of the month. Town officials are looking for residents’ thoughts on spending reductions and will hold a budget forum at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Glenville Senior Center, 32 Worden Road.

Revenues are flat or declining, Koetzle said. The town is taking in almost a half-million dollars less in mortgage tax receipts this year than it did five years ago. At the same time, the town is facing large increases in health insurance and pension costs.

Also, Koetzle said the town has been trying to wean itself off its dependence on using its account of surplus funds from previous budget years. “For too long in the past, this town has relied on a large fund balance to offset large tax increases,” he said.

Glenville is projected to end 2011 with a surplus of about $2.4 million. However, about $1 million of that is already committed to be spent.

The town is looking at a variety of cost-saving measures including a recently approved two-year agreement with Constellation Energy to provide electricity to the town. The town will pay about $125,000 for its electricity compared with $200,000 the year before — assuming it uses the same amount of energy.

Glenville has also trimmed staff the last few years but Koetzle does not know where else it can cut.

“We’re at the bone in the town of Glenville. We can’t cut much more out of personnel and still deliver services to the residents,” he said.

Also, the town has to invest its capital infrastructure and equipment that has been neglected over the years.

Koetzle said new economic development such as Target and other businesses will help decrease the tax burden on the residents — whose homes make up about 80 percent of the tax base.

That will not help in the short term, but it’s a good trend, he said. “I truly believe that Glenville is in a great position where our development is going to bring us more resources in five to 10 years from now. There’s no question in my mind.”

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