BALLSTON SPA – The Ballston Spa Board of Trustees will set a public hearing at its March 27 meeting for the village’s tentative 2023/24 budget, which proposes increasing taxes for Ballston Spa residents in the town of Milton by 1.58%, while village residents in the town of Ballston would see a 2.27% increase.
The proposed increase means resident living in the town of Ballston section of the village would pay $5.44 per $1,000 of assessed value and residents living in the town of Milton section of the village would pay $5.43 per assessed value.
Mayor Frank Rossi said due to assessment growth the village was looking at a 3% tax-rate increase for landowners the Milton section in the village, and 4% for residents in the town of Ballston section. However, using apportionment the village was able to keep the taxes lower and roll over the remainder of the property tax cap levy to future years.
“We owe it to our property owners and residents, after the challenges they’ve faced during and after the major fiscal COVID effects they’ve experienced, to not always increase taxes by the highest rate allowed just because we can,” said Rossi in a press release.
“I’s a very fair budget that’s fair for the taxpayers and fair for the village to ensure continued future growth and protection while ensuring services and activities our community want continue.”
The proposed budget would increase spending 10.4% to $6.24 million for fiscal year 2023/24, from $5.65 million in fiscal year 2022/23.
One of the increases in the budget are salaries for village staff by at least 2.5%, according to the mayor’s executive summary.
Trustees would not receive a raise under the proposed budget.
“While some members of the Board of Trustees were passionate about receiving their 2.5% pay increase –- or $109.59 per trustee for the year -– the budget officer determined that for symbolic reasons, it is not appropriate,” states the mayor’s summary.
Rossi said trustees Liz Kormos and Ben Baskin have been outspoken about wanting the increase. Baskin on Thursday said it is not an increase in his mind, but a cost of living adjustment.
“Inflation was about 6% last year, so this is what that is,” he said.
He said the mayor is politicizing the budget.
“This does not have to be a conversation that we have, but he’s insisting on having it and it just detracts from more important issues.”
Baskin said he did not have any additional comments on the budget at this time.
Under the tentative budget, the water rate for around 60% of the village would increase for the first time in five years to help fund increased costs and $18 million in water infrastructure projects.
The sewer rates also will increase by 5%. The rate had previously only increased by 3% in the last five years. That increase too, is due covering costs related to infrastructure projects.
“Water and sewer costs for the village have escalated precipitously over the past two years while rates remained the same, cutting greatly into the Sewer Fund balance and our needed water income,” the summary states.
Rossi said the budget also will continue to support and emphasize the community events and businesses in the village. Around $30,000 in expenditures is being proposed for the village’s Community for the Arts and non-profit Arts & Sciences Creating Community organization. That money would support items like local concerts and street pole banners. The celebrations budget will increase to $32,000, up from the budgeted amount of $18,200 for fiscal year 2022/23. So far the village has spent almost $23,800 on celebrations. Rossi also is proposing an increase for the Ballston Area Seniors -– the first in several years — to $12,000, up from $10,200.
While the village is looking at an increase in spending, it is keeping sales tax revenue to a conservative estimate, the mayor said.
The proposed budget accounts for $1.26 million in sales tax revenue. Rossi said the village budgeted $1.15 million for fiscal year 2022/23 and is looking at getting $1.35 million.
“This allows us to not have to play the guessing game per se,” he said. “If I was to maximize every dollar in sales tax or suggest this year’s sales tax number needs to be reflected exactly in this budget then I’m taking a risk that’s an unnecessary risk and it might not pan out and we would have a shortfall in that situation.”
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