Niskayuna senior center draws support for added staffing in budget
NISKAYUNA Charles MacAvoy wanted to thank those at the Niskayuna Senior Center and his friend Frank Mauriello for convincing him to go.
MacAvoy, 90, lost his wife of nearly 63 years, Mabel MacAvoy, in March. It was a loss that was plain as he spoke during public comment at Thursday night’s Town Board meeting.
The senior center and the friends he’s made, he said, have helped him in the months since.
“What a great guy,” MacAvoy said of his friend Mauriello. “He helped me. He took me to the senior center. I enjoy every minute of it. The girls there are marvelous. I can’t say enough about them.”
MacAvoy, his friends Mauriello, 88, and Marvin Weaver, 89, and other seniors spoke, praising the center on the night of the public hearing on the 2013 town budget. They advocated for the center and changes proposed.
Included in the $13.7 million spending plan is an increase in personnel services from $79,000 to $115,000. The increase largely is to make one of two part-time staffers at the center full time, Supervisor Joe Landry said.
The extra staff time is expected to go toward outreach to seniors, though the final structure is to be determined. The seniors came out to support the move and there was no opposition.
The board is expected to vote on the plan at its meeting Tuesday, the deadline for passage.
Of the others who spoke Thursday, town resident Bruce Trachtenberg asked for more police officers, while town resident Lorene Zabin contended the budget wasn’t a true picture of the town’s needs.
Trachtenberg, who years ago was a town justice, said the town has fewer officers than it once did. He feared the force won’t be able to keep up with attrition.
Landry later cited the fiscal constraints the town is under, but said it is maintaining the current level under the 2013 budget.
The proposed spending plan calls for a property tax levy increase of 1.42 percent, which is less than the state property tax cap. Total 2013 appropriations would be $13,714,740, up $40,000 from the initial budget proposal and about $455,000 from this year’s. The increase from the initial proposal was offset with a corresponding revenue increase.
The tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value for homeowners would be set at just more than $2.45, up from $2.40 this year, marking an increase of about 1.94 percent.
The non-homestead tax rate, generally covering businesses, would decrease slightly, from $5.04 per $1,000 in assessed value this year to $4.99, a reduction of about 1 percent.
Zabin questioned a budget that she said wasn’t a true budget, one that was austere in certain places but doesn’t reflect the true needs. She specifically questioned budget transfers.
“Between now and when you’re going to pass this document I wish you’d think very seriously about what the needs for the year are going to be,” Zabin said, “so that we can have an honest and true picture of our financial security in this town and what our expectations are for the growth of the town.”
The comments from the seniors were in marked contrast to tension at the center seen as recently as a year ago over staff changes.