Schenectady County

Niskayuna fire district budget plan exceeds state’s tax cap

Residents of Niskayuna’s Fire District No. 1 could see an increase in their fire district tax bills

Categories: News, Schenectady County

Residents of Niskayuna’s Fire District No. 1 could see an increase in their fire district tax bills of more than 10 percent, according to the proposed 2014 budget.

Fire Chief Dale Lingenfelter said the proposed increase comes as a result of increases in retirement and insurance, as well as a large decrease in funds rolled over from the previous year.

Those increases come with cuts that include reductions to training overtime, Lingenfelter said.

In all, the tax levy for Niskayuna Fire District No. 1 would go up to just more than $3.55 million, from the $3.15 million set for 2013, a 12.68 percent increase. The increase comes after the fire district came in below the state tax cap the first two years, Lingenfelter said.

“You can only go so far before you run the risk of not being able to sustain the service,” Lingenfelter said of cuts.

Niskayuna Fire District No. 1 employs 15 firefighter/paramedics, with at least three on duty at all times. The district serves about 4,200 parcels and 11,000 people in an area that straddles Balltown Road from Village Road to the Rexford Bridge.

The proposed increase works out to a tax rate of $2 per $1,000 of assessed value, up from $1.80 in 2013, Lingenfelter said. For example, a home assessed at $150,000 would see an increase of $30 in fire district taxes, to a total of $300.

The fire district’s budget hearing was held earlier this week, with the board of commissioners voting 5-0 to override the tax cap, Lingenfelter said. A final vote has yet to be scheduled, but must happen before a November deadline, he said.

The total Fire District No. 1 budget comes in at $3.6 million. Expenses amount for a 5.4 percent increase. Included in that is a $479,000 retirement contribution, about a $96,000 increase from 2013, as well as about $431,000 for medical insurance, up $44,000 over 2013.

There’s also less to rollover from the previous year. The 2013 budget benefited from more than $245,000 left from the previous year’s budget. The estimated rollover from 2013 is only expected to be about $35,000, Lingenfelter said.

“The carryover difference is a big factor,” he said.

The department moved into its new Balltown Road station last year. The cost of that station, paid for with a 15-year bond, was included in the 2013 budget and remains about the same for 2014.

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