ROTTERDAM — The tax levy will rise about 6 percent under the tentative 2021 town budget released late last week.
The draft budget totals nearly $21.2 million, up from $20.6 million in the current budget. The total amount to be raised by taxes would grow from $10.44 million to $11,06 million, a 6 percent increase. That would work about to about $22 more for the average homeowner, Town Supervisor Steven A. Tommasone said.
But Tommasone, who developed the tentative budget, said he expects the increase to come down before the Town Board approves the plan in November. Detailed reviews by the Town Board members will be taking place later this month.
“We’ll be able to get it down further, unless something we don’t foresee happens,” Tommasone said.
Rotterdam, like towns, villages and cities across the state and across the country, is struggling with the potential for cuts in state and federal aid because of the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tommasone said the proposal assumes state and federal aid will be the same next year, though he acknowledged COVID shutdowns have hurt revenue sources like court fines.
The town uses a two-tiered tax system, with residential properties and commercial properties taxed at different rates. Under the tentative budget, the homestead, or residential, rate for general and highway property taxes would rise to $3.83 per $1,000 assessed value. The rate was $3.71 this year.
The commercial rate — paid by business and industrial properties — would rise to $6.94 per $1,000, up from $6.56 per $1,000 assessed value.
Most property owners in town also pay taxes for special service districts that cover such services as water, sewer and fire protection. Total special district spending comes to about $5 million. Tommasone said some special district tax rates will be coming down due to changes like debt being paid off, and that would reduce the impact of the general fund tax increase.
Another reason taxes would rise is that Tommasone is proposing using less of the town’s fund balance — unspent funds from previous years — in the budget than this year. This year, the Town Board took $1.85 million from the fund balance; Tommasone is proposing taking only $1.6 million in 2021, saying the town still needs to hold some money in reserve.
The town is expecting about 12 employees to retire in 2021. As a cost-saving move, Tommasone said some won’t be replaced and the hiring of new employees will be staggered through the year.
However, the town still faces higher costs for health insurance and state retirement system costs, he noted. The size of those increases will be determined during budget deliberations, he said.