Schenectady County

Niskayuna budget as proposed stays under tax cap rules

Four full-time positions would be eliminated through attrition and fees for some town services would

Four full-time positions would be eliminated through attrition and fees for some town services would go up under the proposed 2012 Niskayuna town budget.

The budget is the first under the new state-imposed 2 percent tax cap rules, supervisor Joe Landry noted, making it difficult to keep the first spending plan in line with the rules.

But the Town Board would have the opportunity to override the new rules through an extra step, Landry noted. And Landry said he will recommend the board keep their options open and call for the required public hearing in the event the board believes exceeding the cap is necessary.

But Landry’s budget as proposed Friday stays within the cap, calling for total 2012 appropriations of $13,246,114, up $235,455 over 2011’s approved spending plan.

The tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value for homeowners would be set at $2.40, up from just over $2.32 for 2011, marking an increase of about 3.4 percent.

The budget itself is within the tax cap, through the state’s formulas and rules, Landry said.

Getting there required an extra $700,000 in extra revenue to fund increases in retirement, contractual employee costs and other spending that the town can’t control.

Through the new rules, only about $330,000 of that coming from property tax increases.

“This year you have a lot less flexibility than we’ve had in the past,” Landry said.

The four open positions being eliminated represent one police post, two from parks and one from highway, Landry said. Three part-time positions are being reduced in hours.

Fees would increase. Exact figures were unavailable, but Landry said recreation fees will be looked at, along with fees for home alarm systems and for lawn debris pickup.

The town currently charges no fee for lawn debris pickup. The proposed budget includes expected revenue of $150,000 from leaf decals.

The budget line for landfill coupons and fees would increase $10,000, from $72,000. Revenue from playground program fees would increase $15,000, from $70,000.

Use of fund balance and reserves is set at zero in the budget. Fund balance and reserves for the 2011 budget were just under $350,000.

Elsewhere, Landry said the plan would call for possible private firms running the town driving range and the pool concessions. The board would put out requests for proposals to see if there is interest in that, he said.

The budget vote is expected to take place Nov. 17, with the budget public hearing possibly on Nov. 10. A public hearing that would be required should the board decide the need to exceed the tax cap is yet to be scheduled.

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