Saratoga County

Clifton Park proposes 2 percent increase in highway tax, one worker layoff

The town’s proposed 2012 town budget holds the line on spending in the general fund but features a s

The town’s proposed 2012 town budget holds the line on spending in the general fund but features a small spending increase in the highway fund.

Town Supervisor Philip Barrett is proposing a $15.1 million general fund that is $55,000 below this year’s general fund.

The proposed spending plan continues to fund all town services and retains all current town staff except for one person in the town Planning Department.

This part of the 2012 town budget again includes no town property tax, Barrett said.

The 2012 town highway fund, proposed at $4.8 million, would include an increase of about $200,000 from the 2011 town budget and will push the town tax rate up by 2 percent.

The town’s relatively small tax rate will increase from 18.55 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation to 18.9 cents per $1,000.

“Despite the continued sluggish economy and its effect on sales tax revenue, our largest revenue source by far, we have been able to hold the line again in 2012,” Barrett said in a prepared statement.

Barrett said the town is budgeting a decrease in county sales tax revenue next year — $10 million compared to this year’s projected $10.2 million.

The owner of an average home in Clifton Park with a market value of $288,000 and assessed value of $150,000 will pay about $30 in town taxes in 2012 if the proposed budget is adopted in November, according to town officials.

Town Highway Superintendent Richard Kukuk said the highway fund tax levy of $420,000 this year will increase $11,000 in 2012. He wants his department to pave eight miles of town roads in 2012, down from the roughly 10 miles paved this year.

“It’s been a tough year,” Kukuk said about his department. He said major winter storms early in the year and the impact of Tropical Storm Irene late this summer have increased spending.

In his budget message, Barrett explains that longtime town administrator Michael Shahen — whose 2012 salary was budgeted at $103,000 — left the town in March. Barrett said he left $90,437 in the 2012 budget for the position but the Town Board will be discussing the town’s management structure in the coming weeks.

“A town administrator position may be eliminated or changed in the 2012 town budget,” Barrett said.

The town has had a four-person Planning Department in recent years. One position in this department is being eliminated in the 2012 budget and that person will be laid off.

Barrett said there had been three people in that department for many years and the department will return to this number next year. The town remains debt-free and retains more than $8 million in surplus funds, Barrett said.

The proposed town budget also includes money for vehicle purchases, capital investments in recreational venues, the continuation of bulk waste pick-up service and the continuing support of the Senior Center, CAPTAIN and Care Links, Barrett said.

The Town Board will be holding workshops on the proposed budget and at least one public hearing before it adopts a final 2012 budget next month.

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