CHARLTON — The town would remain without a property tax for the 38th consecutive year under the tentative 2021 town budget proposed Monday by Town Supervisor Alan R. Grattidge.
Grattidge, a Republican who will be retiring at the end of the year, said more than $85,000 has been cut from town spending between 2020 and 2021, including reductions on capital projects, less money in the town’s contingency account, and postponing computer hardware purchases.
Grattidge said this has been the hardest year in his 15 years as supervisor to keep the tax-free pledge. “The thing is, the uncertainty is the revenue side of the budget,” Grattidge said.
Under his proposal, overall town spending would drop from $2,026,000 to $1,941,000. Town general fund spending would be down by about $55,000, and town highway spending down by about $30,000.
Grattidge said the tentative budget reduces the town’s road paving budget by $20,000, to $108,000, and it puts off plans to start a townwide property revaluation for another year. The town will delay plans to buy a new computer server, and reduce its contingency account for unexpected expenses from $40,000 to $20,000.
Despite the cuts, Grattidge has budgeted for a 2-percent pay increase for all town employees. “When I look at pay scales across Saratoga County, Charlton is always at the low end. We need to keep up with the market,” he said.
Overall, Grattidge is estimating that revenue from the Saratoga County sales tax and other sources will be down only about 8 percent this year, despite the economic consequences the COVID-19 pandemic. While the local economy was devastated by mandatory business shutdowns from March through June, Grattidge said he thinks things will be improving.
“It is rebounding,” Grattidge said of the sales tax. “I’m optimistic it will come in close to where it was projected.”
For next year, he expects sales tax revenue to remain flat, at about $1.4 million. “I am being conservative,” he said.
The town has relied heavily on revenue from the sales tax to support its budget while generally spending conservatively, which has allowed Charlton to remain without a general or highway tax since 1983.
The budget proposal is subject to review and approval by the Town Board. Grattidge said he expects there to be two workshops in late September and early October, and a public hearing on the spending plan on Oct. 26. Adoption of the budget is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 9.