With each passing year, the pressure on Charlton Supervisor Alan Grattidge to continue a long-running tradition with the town’s budget increases.
For more than a quarter of a century, the rural Saratoga County town has operated without a town tax or highway tax, and Grattidge was able to keep the streak alive with his proposed 2014 budget. “I certainly don’t want to be the supervisor that breaks that streak,” he joked.
The $1.77 million he proposes to spend on the Highway Department and general expenses will come from sales taxes, mortgage taxes and other sources.
Spending for the town’s general fund and Highway Department is budgeted to be 4 percent less than this year, said Grattidge, largely due to the town’s purchase of a police car this year, which caused a one-time rise in spending that won’t be repeated next year.
The budget does include pay raises of between 2 percent and 2.5 percent for town employees, including the supervisor, Town Board members, judges, town clerk, tax collector and highway superintendent. Additionally, salaries in the Highway Department were raised between 2 percent and 4 percent based on a merit pay suggestion from Highway Superintendent Mike Emerich, said Grattidge.
In response to increased road construction and maintenance money from the state, Grattidge increased the town’s spending, matching the approximately $50,000 increase. “That’s the way Charlton has always done its road program,” he explained. “We’re dedicated to improving our infrastructure.”
Also included in the highway budget is funding for a new plow truck, with the $160,000 cost being spread out between 2014 and 2015.
About $25,000 of the town’s fund balance is to be used for spending this year, which Grattidge said would leave about $40,000 in rainy day money for the Highway Department and about $540,000 for the general fund. He said it was important to have a healthy reserve fund in case of unexpected expenditures, noting that the town’s upcoming legal battle over work on the Town Hall could result in additional costs next year that could easily be absorbed by the general fund’s reserves.
In projecting revenues, Grattidge was conservative, budgeting less in sales tax collection next year than what likely will be collected this year.
There will be a public hearing on the proposed budget at 7 p.m. Oct. 28, and a vote by the Town Board is expected on Nov. 12.
A budget summary is available on the Daily Gazette website’s special budget coverage section at www.dailygazette.com/budgets/saratogacounty/.