Schenectady County

Niskayuna Town Board digs into budget work

The Town Board started its 2013 budget work Tuesday night, touching on topics of police overtime, sa

The Town Board started its 2013 budget work Tuesday night, touching on topics of police overtime, sales tax revenue and recreation.

Meanwhile, the board also honored the 15 and Under Niskayuna Babe Ruth All-Star Team for its run to the Babe Ruth World Series in Arkansas and its third-place finish at the national tournament in August.

Tuesday night marked the board’s first budget workshop where board members could ask questions of department heads. Police Chief John Lubrant and Lori Peretti, the town’s coordinator of community programs, fielded questions.

The proposed 2013 spending plan calls for a property tax levy increase of 1.42 percent, which is less than the state property tax cap. Total 2013 appropriations would be $13,665,930, up $415,316 from the approved 2012 spending plan.

In the police budget, board member Julie McDonnell questioned overtime numbers, noting the budgeted 2013 amount of $150,000 is less than actuals for 2010 and 2011.

In 2010, the department paid just less than $182,000 in overtime, in 2011, the number topped $170,000.

Lubrant cited some variables that can affect the numbers, including military deployments and extended sick leave. In 2010 and 2011, the department dealt with deployments.

Overall, Lubrant said, the department keeps a close eye on overtime.

“I can’t predict with any certainty what the coming year will bring with those two factors,” Lubrant said, “but I can say, operationally, we will do everything within our power to continue to operate with minimal overtime.”

Overall, police expenditures would increase in the proposed budget from $3.06 million to just less than $3.19 million.

In Peretti’s community programs department, McDonnell noted the programs, most of them youth oriented, have offsetting revenue through fees charged.

“Many, if not most, of these programs are completely offset by revenues coming in from the registration fees,” McDonnell said. “In some of them, the revenues exceed the expenditures.”

In another budget issue, Town Board member Jonathan McKinney questioned the town’s revenue for sales tax revenue. The town is budgeted to receive $3.17 million in 2013, the same as the adopted 2012 figure, but McKinney asked whether the town should receive more, with increased economic development.

Supervisor Joe Landry responded that the town has little say on how much is sent back. The money goes to the county, the county then negotiates with the city.

“Legally, the county doesn’t have to give any money in sales tax to the towns,” Landry said, “so we’re not even part of the discussion on sales tax. That’s something that the county has done in their agreement with the city.”

The tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value for homeowners would be set at just more than $2.45, up from $2.40 this year, marking an increase of about 1.94 percent.

The non-homestead tax rate, generally covering businesses, would decrease slightly, from $5.04 per $1,000 in assessed value in the 2012 plan to $4.99, a reduction of about 1 percent.

The public hearing on the budget is expected to be held Nov. 15, with the vote to approve a 2013 spending plan expected on the deadline, Nov. 20.

At the start of the meeting, the board recognized the Babe Ruth team, presenting members with a ceremonial resolution marking their World Series appearance. The team then presented Landry with a baseball signed by the team.

The team’s third-place trophy was also presented for display at Town Hall.

Head coach Chris Bianchi thanked the board for the recognition and praised his players for their efforts.

“We’re very proud of the kids,” Bianchi said. “They played very well and they improved a lot.”

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