Niskayuna Town Board unanimously passes 2019 budget

'The Town Board members cut taxes last year and our priority was to maintain those tax cuts'

The Niskayuna Town Board on Thursday voted unanimously to adopt the 2019 budget.

The budget, which places total revenues at $15,370,107, will not require an increase in property taxes for town residents.

The original spending plan released in October came with a 1 percent tax increase. Residents with a home valued at the median price of $274,400 would have paid an extra $7.35 for the year.

Adjustments and revisions later changed budget lines, and eliminated the increase.

Supervisor Yasmine Syed said between cuts and additions, “We swapped out $85,000. We cut roughly $35,000 in expenditures and raised $45,000 in revenues.”

No town programs were eliminated. Some controversial ideas in an early version of the budget — such as the elimination of the current town pool concession operation and replacement with privatization, an increase in pool entrance fees and the elimination of funding for public access television — later were abandoned.

Members of the board commended Syed, a Republican, and their fellow Democrat board member Denise Murphy McGraw for their work together on the budget.

Board Member Lisa Weber said she believes it’s important to keep community programs affordable. “I know that’s a value shared by many,” she said.

Board member Bill McPartlon said Syed and McGraw did plenty of work behind the scenes to arrive at the final document.

“It was no small task the two of them took on with the support of the other council members with their comments and their concerns,” McPartlon said. “It’s a good budget.”

McGraw said she did not want to see a tax increase.

“The Town Board members cut taxes last year and our priority was to maintain those tax cuts,” McGraw said. “We could not have turned around and raised taxes this year.”

McGraw said it was hard finding the money that made the final version of the budget work.

“And it took time,” McPartlon said. “When we started with the budget workshops, long meetings with all of us here, they could have gone on for many more hours. Denise had a sense of what we all wanted, what all the concerns were.”

“We really started from ground zero again,” McGraw said of the budget process.

Earlier this week, Syed said she was happy with the budget.

“I think it’s a win for the taxpayers anytime we don’t have to increase residential property taxes,” she said. “It’s a win for them and it’s a win for us.”

In a smaller piece of business during the meeting, McGraw said the Thursday and Friday snow will only delay town pick-up of autumn leaves. Residents do not have to worry that collections have ended because of the early snowfall.

“Leaf pick-ups will resume as soon as the plowing is done,” she said.

Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected].

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