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What you need to know for 01/18/2018

Proposed 2014 Niskayuna budget would carry 3.38 percent tax hike

Proposed 2014 Niskayuna budget would carry 3.38 percent tax hike

The $14 million 2014 Niskayuna budget proposed by Supervisor Joe Landry squeaks in under the propert

The $14 million 2014 Niskayuna budget proposed by Supervisor Joe Landry squeaks in under the property tax cap by $2.

The town’s property tax cap calculation came in at 3.378 percent, and that’s the percentage increase town residents would see on their tax bills, if the budget is approved. That will bring in $7,551,660, or $2 less than the maximum tax levy under the state-imposed cap.

Landry said he didn’t need to cut any jobs to keep the budget under the cap. The budget also uses no fund balance, or surplus.

“What we try to do is minimize increases and provide the services that people are used to,” he said. “We believe that this budget is a reflection of a lot of hard work by the department heads.”

“We feel it’s a good budget,” he added.

Landry’s budget, filed Tuesday, calls for total 2014 appropriations of $14,052,110, up $337,370 from the approved 2013 spending plan.

The tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value for homeowners would be set at just under $2.54, up from just under $2.46 in 2013.

The non-homestead tax rate, generally covering businesses, would go up by the same percentage, from just over $4.99 per $1,000 to just under $5.15.

Budget workshops are to be held later this month. A public hearing on the budget will be held in November; the deadline for passing a budget is Nov. 20.

The budget includes no new positions and no position cuts, Landry said. But he noted that personnel lines within the budget were shifted to better reflect who is doing what work for which department.

Leaf recycling fees are budgeted at $190,000, up $20,000 from what was budgeted in 2013 but about as much as was collected in 2012 — $192,390. The town instituted the $30 fee in 2012. Residents are able to opt out if they like.

Revenue from sale of town property is expected to drop from $145,000 in 2013 to $50,000 in 2014.

But the town is also expecting an $80,000 increase in mortgage tax revenue. Mortgage tax revenue is budgeted at $780,000 for 2014. Mortgage tax revenue was budgeted at $700,000 for 2013 but is on track to total $850,000, town comptroller Paul Sebesta said. In 2012 $925,000 was collected. In 2011 just $655,000 was collected.

Lagging mortgage tax receipts and low reserves from storm damage helped result in the town’s credit rating being lowered in 2011 by Moody’s.

The 2014 budget would be the second-straight year without use of any general fund reserves.

“It’s been growing slowly,” Sebesta said of the reserves. “They’re in better shape than in the last five years.”

As for keeping the budget under the tax cap, Landry said he asked department heads to start with zero-sum increases, then tell him what they really needed.

With that, the town also has the standard non-negotiable increases of retirement and insurance costs.

“When you get done with all these non-negotiable increases, there’s very little left,” Landry said.

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