The budget for the Town of New Paltz shows a 7.87 percent increase in the property tax levy.
According to Town Supervisor Neil Bettez, the main causes are revenue decreasing and contractual increase such as: health insurance ($150,000), workers compensation ($40,000), retirement ($77,000), salary ($260,000), social security ($8,000). There were also increases in what is paid for ambulance service ($14,000) and fire protection ($78,000) for a total of over $627,000.
Town Councilman Marty Irwin has already tried to increase the budget twice, once to cover costs of creating a master plan, and to cover the costs of repairing Moriello Pool entirely from town funds, according to Hudson Valley One.
“I believe, and so do most of my constituents with whom I’ve spoken, that a new town-wide comprehensive plan is a higher priority than stopping CVS,” Irwin said. “If you were to watch the town’s planning board meeting this past Monday night, about an hour into the meeting, the discussion turns to the moratorium.”
He added that his projection of the costs, including potential legal costs, would pay for a full town-wide comprehensive plan and associated zoning amendments and revisions. According to Irwin, the Moriello Pool’s vinyl liner is in need of replacement, but some want to proceed only if the village will pay half the cost.
“This approach makes it virtually impossible to open the pool this summer,” he said. “I believe the needs of the community, which includes lots of swim team folks, as well as kids, is an expense folks want; we should have funded the repairs and sought the village’s contribution.”
Bettez said that residents are not thrilled with the tax increase, but have not been overly vocal. He believes that town leaders will hear more backlash as it becomes more publicized and well-known.
According to Bettez, the Town outside the Village (TOV) tax rate will increase by $0.62 per one thousand dollars of assessed value ($0.41 for town taxes, $0.12 highway, $0.09 Fire) from $7.93 to $8.56 or about $171 for a house assessed at the median home value of $275 thousand. The Village faces increases from $5.50 to $5.85 ($0.33 for town taxes, $0.02 highway, Fire is paid by their Village taxes) for an increase of about $96 for a home assessed at the median home value.
Although Bettez is not happy about the budget, he is happy it did not go up as much as it could have and believes they have done well in cutting out a lot of excess. A total of $11,902,332 is in the 2017 budget made up of $2,345,467 from revenues, $1,100,000 from the previous year’s unexpended fund balance, and $8,456,865 raised by taxes.
Bettez added that although this 11.9 million dollar budget is up 4.4 percent from 2016 (an increase of $501,589 from $11,400,743) the tax rate is up 7.87 percent because revenue was down $48,856 (two percent) and we had $66,470 (six percent) less in fund balance to spend.
“The reason we had less in fund balance was that we need to keep some funds available to deal with revenue shortfalls and expenditure overruns and a negative or low fund balance can affect the government’s ability to provide services at current levels,” he said.
Bettez said that approving such an increase is a pretty straight-forward process although the State’s Property Tax Cap limits makes it a little more complicated. Since 2013, the amount that local governments can increase property taxes is the lower of two percent or the rate of inflation; this year the rate of inflation was 0.68 percent so taxes could be raised by about $51,000. According to Bettez, they knew they would not be able to keep the increases under the cap and had to pass a law to override it.
“The procedure is that the supervisor works with the comptroller and department heads to come up with a tentative budget which he or she presents to the Clerk by Sept. 30,” he said. “The supervisor then has 51 days to work with the Town Board to revise and adopt the final budget during which time they need to hold a public hearing to get feedback.”