GLENVILLE — Despite how the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated municipal finances, the proposed 2021 Glenville town budget would raise property taxes just under one percent, Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said Wednesday.
Koetzle, a Republican who previously said the 2021 budget would be the most challenging he had ever developed, said the proposed 0.98 percent tax increase would mean an $11 per year increase for a home assessed at $205,000, while homes in the village of Scotia — which is exempted from some town costs — could actually see a small decrease in their taxes.
The overall tax rate would increase from $4.44 to $4.49 per $100,000 assessed value, keeping the town under the state’s two percent tax cap. This past year, taxes went up 2.94 percent.
“We know people are looking for relief,” Koetzle said.
With some capital projects being cut, overall spending would total $19,157,000, a decrease of about $278,000 from this year’s budget, while the total amount to be raised from property taxes will rise from $9.21 million to $9.63 million.
“The uncertainty and revenue losses due to the pandemic has thrown a monkey wrench into our long-established plan,” Koetzle wrote in a budget statement released Wednesday. “Still, I believe the 2021 tentative budget is fiscally sound, operationally effective, and fair to all.”
Koetzle, who in eleven years in office has consistently sought to reduce the town’s use of the fund balance to balance the budget, will increase the draw on the fund balance next year, from $300,000 to $465,000.
“This was the first year that I had to allocate more fund balance than in previous years, but it is a very rainy day and I felt it was the right thing to do in order to help us preserve services while protecting the taxpayer,” Koetzle said.
While some capital projects, including long-planned town park improvements, have been put on hold to keep spending down, the budget does include money for construction of a sidewalk on Broad Street near the Sacandaga Elementary School, $70,000 for the continuing restoration work at the historic Yates Mansion, and an additional $150,000 for paving, to be spent on top of whatever the town received next year from the state’s CHIPS highway program.
The two Democrats on the Town Board, Michael Godlewski and Michael Aragosa, have voted against adopting the budget in each of the last two years because they thought the town should draw more from its fund balance rather than increase property taxes, and concerns about town spending levels. Godlewski said Wednesday that they would be going carefully over the Republican budget proposal. “Considering that there’s a pandemic, we will go over it with a fine-tooth comb,’ he said.
“I like that we’re coming in at a significantly lower tax increase,” said Godlewski, who had yet to see budget details. “It jumps out at me, knowing that we’re facing state aid cuts.”
The town will be guaranteed $1.79 million in sales tax revenue from Schenectady County, the same as it received this year. Even though the county is facing its own revenue struggles due to the pandemic and sales tax revenue is down, a new sales tax agreement under consideration by the County Legislature would guarantee the towns receive what they receive now, and two percent increases after 2024.
Tentative plans call for the required public hearing on the proposed budget to be held on Nov. 4 at the Town Hall.