Spending for youth and senior citizens will decrease in the town of Schoharie’s 2013 budget to avoid the 5.7 percent tax hike initially proposed and stay within the state’s 2 percent tax hike cap.
“It would have been a lot to digest,” Supervisor Gene Milone said of a larger tax increase.
“We did everything we could to stay under the cap. It’s going to be difficult again next year but hopefully we’ll have a lot of the homes rebound in the village and in the town itself and with that, the tax [revenue] will increase.”
The town on Oct. 24 approved the roughly $960,000 budget, which projects a tax levy increase of between 1.8 percent and 1.9 percent, Milone said.
Schoharie is contending with the loss of roughly $12 million in taxable value due to the destruction by Tropical Storm Irene last year.
Milone said that loss equates to roughly $16,000 in tax revenue.
For spending reductions, the Town Board cut $5,000 from the joint village-town youth program line, leaving $6,400.
The youth line provides funding for the swimming pool, among other things, Milone said.
He said he’s made contact with state officials in hopes of finding support, but he said the town would consider reaching deeper into fund balance in the event insufficient funds are available to get the swimming pool open in 2013. “If, early on the season we find it’s going to be extremely difficult to provide the service, we’ll probably go back to unallocated funding,” he said.
The town also contributes $3,000 each year toward senior citizen functions, and the budget will pull $1,000 out of that line.
“We’re borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. It was a real struggle,” Milone said.
A legal line typically maintained at $75,000 was cut down to $50,000 to address increased expenses, he said.
The town is pulling $10,000 from its buildings fund, leaving $13,000 left in that line as well.
Employees will get a 2 percent pay increase but Town Board members will not and Milone said he’s donating his salary as town supervisor — $8,900 — to the Fire Department and Schoharie Promotional Association.
Though the town will be able to keep taxes below the state’s cap, Milone said it will be difficult to do in 2014.
“We’re only prolonging the inevitable. There’s just so many times you can go to the hole, so many times you can jiggle the lines in the budget. It’s going to reach the point where there’s an increase in taxes unless we get some relief on mandates from the state,” he said.