GLENVILLE -- The Town Board this week adopted a $19.43 million budget for 2020 that includes a 2 percent property tax increase, with the two Democrats on the board voting against its adoption.
The 3-2 vote at Wednesday's board meeting came after about 40 minutes of discussion on amendments proposed by Democrat Michael Godlewski that would have cut spending further, with Republican Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle accusing Godlewski of "not having done his homework."
Total spending is up about $1.1 million from this year's budget, which Koeztle said is due primarily to increased personnel costs, including higher health insurance and retirement costs. The total amount to be collected from property taxes will increase about $200,000, to $9.2 million. The tax rate will increase from $4.36 to $4.45 per $1,000 assessed value.
“It’s a very efficient, lean budget," Koetzle said.
Godlewski voted against adopting the budget after the board rejected his proposed amendments, most of which would have reduced spending, also by 3-2 votes.
"There are a lot of good things in this budget, but the residents of the town of Glenville didn’t elect me to be a rubber stamp for the majority," Godlewski said. “These [amendments] would have saved the residents of Glenville money.”
The proposed amendments would have cut a budget line for outside grant management from $15,000 to $3,000, cut the town's contract for legal services from $107,712 to $85,000, and taken an additional $25,288 from the fund balance to reduce the tax levy. He would also have restored $1,000 in funding for the village of Scotia's Collins Park recreation program that the proposed budget had cut.
Koetzle charged Godlewski with not knowing what the grant management consultant did or justifying the cut in legal services. Godlewski contends the town's economic development coordinator could manage grants, and legal services costs should be reduced because town attorney Michael Cuevas is leaving -- he becomes a state Supreme Court judge as of Jan. 1.
“With Mr. Cuevas goes a career’s worth of knowledge and experience, and as importantly the vast amount of institutional knowledge he has," Godlewski said. ”I just think there should be a reduction, considering we are losing Mr. Cuevas.”
Koetzle noted that the town's contract isn't actually with Cuevas but with an Albany law firm where he is of counsel. He said the firm will supply another lawyer who also will be highly qualified.
Earlier, during a budget workshop, the board reduced the appropriation for Schenectady County emergency dispatching services by $50,000 from what was in the preliminary budget, lowering the tax levy increase from 2.5 percent to 2 percent. Koetzle said the county, which bills the towns for their use of the central dispatch center, typically has overcharged Glenville by about that much.
The 2019 town budget was also adopted by a 3-2 vote a year ago, which was the first year Democrats Godlewski and Michael Aragosa were on the board.