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No tax increase in revised Niskayuna budget

No tax increase in revised Niskayuna budget

'Where you begin is not where you end up, so this wasn't a surprise to me at all'
No tax increase in revised Niskayuna budget
Photographer: Gazette file photo

Niskayuna residents will not pay a tax increase in 2019.

The Town Board will vote on a revised version of Supervisor Yasmine Syed's 2019 budget at Thursday's 7 p.m. meeting at Edwin D. Reilly Jr. Niskayuna Town Hall.

The $15,371,654 first version of the budget, released in early October, included a tax levy increase of 1 percent. Had the spending plan passed, the owner of a home valued at the town's median price of $274,400 would have paid an additional $7.35 in taxes.

"We were able to scale back some of the appropriations we had budgeted for," Syed said Wednesday. "We're not eliminating any programs. We did eliminate the yard waste fee increase, and we were able to more accurately project our revenues, so we saw some revenue increases."

Syed also said she was happy with the new budget, which places total revenues at $15,370,107.

"I think it's a win for the taxpayers anytime we don't have to increase residential property taxes," Syed said. "It's a win for them and a win for us."

Compromise between Republican Syed and the four Democrat members of the Town Board became part of the process.

"I can't say I'm disappointed with any of the changes," Syed said. "I think we compromised. We really looked at every line. We did a great job finding every dollar we could and being as accurate as possible."

In a joint statement, board members Denise Murphy McGraw, John Della Ratta, Bill McPartlon and Lisa Weber said they would vote for the final version of the budget.

The budget process included several disagreements. Democrats were against a proposed privatization of the concession stand at the town swimming pool, the elimination of funding for public access television and a proposed increase for town pool entrance fees - issues that sparked statements from members of the public during workshop sessions. 

Democrats also were against spending $650,000 in contingency funds.

McGraw, who worked with Syed during revisions, thanked the supervisor for her willingness to work with the board on a budget she said "more closely reflects the values of our community."

Della Ratta said early versions of the budget, with a tax increase and what he called a "raid" on contingency funds, was "DOA" (dead on arrival). "I'm very glad we were able to improve the budget on behalf of all residents," he said.

Syed said revenue increases came from several places, including:

* An additional $19,000 from licensing fees paid to the town by Verizon, for the new communications tower coming to WTRY Road.

* An expected $40,000 from the sale of town property located near the swimming pool off Aqueduct Road that the town cannot use.

* Another $23,000 budgeted for justice court funds - money received through court fines and bail forfeitures.

* An additional $9,000 in mortgage tax revenue.

"Between cuts and additions, we swapped out $85,000," Syed said. "We cut roughly $35,000 in expenditures and raised $45,000 in revenues."

Weber said she was pleased with the end result, calling the budget more family-friendly. McPartlon liked the increased funding for the town Police Department and greater salary parity for part-time employees.

Syed, a former senior budget analyst at Albany Medical Center, said she is used to the budget process.

"Where you begin is not where you end up," she said, "so this wasn't a surprise to me at all. It came out well, so I'm pleased."

Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected].

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