The Glenville Town Board on Wednesday approved a roughly $18 million preliminary budget and scuttled an earlier idea to override the state tax cap.
That town officials were even considering exceeding the 2 percent cap on property tax increases drew angry comments from residents at the last meeting on Oct. 5. Supervisor Chris Koetzle said Wednesday that when the budget process started in late July, officials did not know the state of the town’s finances.
“You’ve got to have every option on the table,” he said. “I knew at the time that there would be politically motivated people to take their potshots. Every day of the week, I’m going to do what’s right for this town.”
Councilwoman Gina Wierzbowski said the town kept the tax levy increase low and did not raise any fees. “We may have had some reduction in staff because of attrition, but we did not lay anyone off in this economy,” she said.
The board voted to strip out 1 percent raises that Koetzle had included in the tentative budget.
Councilman John Pytlovany said, “I believe that in this economy my salary should remain the same.”
Some board members were unaware raises were included until it was brought up by former supervisor Frank Quinn during the privilege of the floor. Quinn also said the town should take more from its surplus to lower the tax levy increase.
“You can certainly get to a zero tax increase,” he said.
Former councilwoman Valerie DiGiandomenico said the town can control costs better. Members of the highway and CSEA unions received 2 percent raises last year and this year and will receive the same next year under their contracts. Also, police union members received a retroactive 2.7 percent raise last year and are getting 1.5 percent raises in six-month increments for 2011 and 2012.
Roger Harrison, president of the local CSEA unit, took issue with DiGiandomenico’s comments about the size of the raises, saying that health insurance concessions, which are saving the town about $150,000, helped pay for them.
Koetzle said it was in the town’s best interest to resolve the contracts.
“The PBA can bring us to arbitration if we don’t settle that contract and likely get a higher wage increase with no health insurance concessions,” he said.
Also, Koetzle said that while the town could easily tap more of the fund balance to lower the tax rate, that could hurt the town when the surplus is drained. “It isn’t about just today and getting through an election cycle. It’s about putting this town on good footing well after all of us are gone,” he said.
The board adjusted the budget numbers slightly after it found $100,000 that had not been booked in the sewer fund. After deducting $15,000 in a charge to the city of Schenectady for its wastewater plant, that is $85,000 in new revenue.
While the total levy would rise a little less than 3 percent under Koetzle’s tentative $18.2 million spending plan, it complies with the 2 percent limit because the law allows municipalities to exclude certain pension cost increases from counting toward the cap.
If this budget were adopted, a homeowner with an average assessment of $173,000 would pay about $15 more in town property taxes, rising to $571.
The town has implemented a six-month hiring freeze and is not filling open positions.
A public hearing will be held on the budget on Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m.
In other business, the Town Board agreed to spend up to $85,000 to make repairs to Pumphouse Road, which was flooded during Tropical Storm Irene. The grade of the road needs to be flattened so water will not sheet over it.
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