Glenville residents can expect a preliminary 2022 town budget from the supervisor at the end of the month.
But to give residents some budgetary insight, Supervisor Chris Koetzle held a budget forum Wednesday evening where he discussed the financial state of the town, his priorities for the town next year and challenges that will continue to plague the town as it develops the budget.
“We have budgeted wisely for the last 12 years,” Koetzle said. “We’re in a very strong fiscal position.”
Koetzle said that measures the town has put in place over the years like using less from surplus funds and finding ways to pay with cash have allowed the town to lower its debt to $11 million at the end of this year from $23 million in 2009, create reserve accounts to pay for projects and keep the state tax cap under the 2% requirement.
Board member Mike Godlewski said while the tax cap hasn’t been over 2% it has been at it or very close to it.
“I’d like to see us stay within a 1% to 1.5% increase,” Godlewski said Thursday.
He said he and board member Michael Aragosa voted no on two of the last three town budgets because they believed the tax increase was too much.
Koetzle said Glenville residents are paying comparatively the least amount of taxes of any municipality in Schenectady County.
But there are costs that will continue to challenge the town, Koetzle said. Those include increasing costs of medical benefits, payments from the retirement reserve and inflation while the tax cap remains at 2%.
Health insurance is expected to increase anywhere from $80,000 to $100,000.
“That’s actually low,” Koetzle said.
That means taxpayers in 2022 will pay more than $2 million in health benefits for town employees, Koetzle said.
The town is also projecting six retirements with a potential sick leave payout of $230,000. He said that will be paid out using the town’s retirement reserve account. He said the board has to continue to figure out how to replenish that account for future retirements.
As Koetzle continues preparing the budget, he said his top priorities are:
- Continue paving projects
- Continue park improvements
- Pursue more Climate Smart Initiatives
- Work to build more walkways and pedestrian pathways
- Continue re-shaping and building along Freeman’s Bridge Road
Koetzle said he doesn’t plan to use any federal stimulus money in the 2022 budget as the parameters on how the money can be used have not been fully clarified yet.
Godlewski said he would like to see something done with the federal stimulus money.
“If it’s determined that it can be used this way, I ‘d like to see some of it used to address our infrastructure, specifically our roads,” he said.
Both Godlewski and Deputy Supervisor Gina Wierzbowski on Thursday said an intern for the Highway Department recently did a presentation showing the board how roads were holding up in the town.
Board member Mike Aragosa said Thursday he’d also like to see the federal stimulus money used but didn’t specify for what.
Infrastructure was top priority for almost all of the board members though.
On top of figuring out how to spend the stimulus money, Aragosa said there is infrastructure, like painting the water towers, that still needs to be done.
“We’ve known about it for some time and we haven’t done anything about it,” he said.
He said paving should also continue. But besides infrastructure projects, youth programs should get funding again, Aragosa said.
Wierzbowski said paving is something she’s also interested in continuing. “That’s something they can see and feel and touch,” she said.
But her other goals consisted of ensuring town services remain intact, including continuing to have adequate staffing levels and well-maintained equipment.
Wierzbowski said she’s also been in talks with the supervisor about the potential to create a community garden behind Anderson Dog Park.
Aragosa said the town did not fund its summer program last year. He said the explanation given was that not enough kids in town were participating in it. He said funding should be restored and additional programs looked at.
Town Board member James Martin could not be reached for comment.
Hearings on the budget are expected to take place in October. Town Comptroller Jason Cuthbert said the town is expected to pass the final budget Nov. 17.
Another budget forum will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Glenville Senior Center.