BALLSTON SPA — Saratoga County property owners could pay 5% less in taxes if the county’s tentative 2023 budget is approved.
The budget proposes reducing property taxes to $2.12 per $1,000 of assessed value for 2023 compared to $2.23 per $1,000 of assessed value for 2022.
“We believe this property tax decrease is positive news for our taxpayers as they struggle to cope with the highest inflation rate in forty years,” said county Administrator Steve Bulger in his budget message. “Like everyone else, the county is tightening our financial belt to deal with both higher prices and potentially less revenues if projections of a recession come true.”
Overall the 2023 tentative budget puts the county’s total spending at $378.3 million, a decrease of $3.2 million from the 2022 adopted budget.
“Saratoga County continues to be one of the fastest growing, fiscally conservative counties in the state as reflected in this proposed budget,” said Theodore T. Kusnierz, Jr., chairman of the county Board of Supervisors in a press release. “With uncertain financial times ahead, homeowners will receive much needed relief with a 5% property tax reduction through a balanced budget that doesn’t borrow from the county’s fund balance. Importantly, the budget upholds our fiscally responsible practices, continues to provide vital programs and services to our residents, supports public safety and public health initiatives, and makes smart investments in economic development.”
It is the first time in six years the county will not be using fund balance reserves, according to the release.
The county is also budgeting for $150 million in sales tax revenue next year.
The budget includes allocating various amounts of money for first responders and public safety initiatives, according to the budget.
Those initiatives include:
- $20,000 for purchasing automated external defibrillators for patrol vehicles.
- $25,000 to expand the EMT Career Pathway Program countywide.
- $50,000 for first responder needs like planning and response efforts countywide.
- Using $130,000 in Opioid Settlement Funds to establish programs to help people find community-based treatment services.
The Sheriff’s Department’s budget is proposed at $40.3 million, down from the 2022 budget of $43.7 million.
In 2022, the county used one-time American Rescue Plan Act funding to support projects like new radios and the purchasing of body cameras in the Sheriff’s Department, said Christine Rush, the county’s director of public relations.
“The 2023 tentative budget makes significant investments in the sheriff’s budget for new positions, new equipment and renovations at the jail, among other initiatives,” Rush said.
Sheriff Michael Zurlo could not be reached for comment.
The tentative budget also sets aside $600,000 to promote tourism and economic development. The money will be divvied up between a number of agencies, such as the I Love NY Program, Saratoga Economic Development Corporation, Capital Region Chamber, America’s Turning Point initiatives.
An additional $3 million in county funds is proposed to be used for community development organizations and another $400,000 is proposed for the Farmland and Open Space Grant program, which maintains the county’s trails and open spaces.
Bulger said while the county has maintained its fiscal responsibility it still faces the challenge of funding mandates from the state and federal government where no aid is provided.
“Taxpayers have to foot the bill for these burdensome mandates, and I am very proud of our county workforce who continue to do a good job delivering these services to our residents,’ he said.