Rotterdam budget limits taxes but adds fees, cuts medics
ROTTERDAM Rotterdam residents won’t see a big increase in their taxes next year, but they’ll notice a few extra fees and one less town-operated service.
The Town Board Wednesday adopted a 2014 budget that imposes a $50 annual fee for yard waste pickup and a $50 hike in fees for all of the town’s water districts. The $22.5 million spending plan also slashes funding for the town’s paramedic service in anticipation that an area ambulance company will provide it instead.
Also passed were a number of discretionary raises for various non-union town employees. The raises were a contentious issue during this year’s election, in which Republicans picked up two Town Board seats, unseating an incumbent and defeating a candidate backed by the majority Democrats.
Republicans Joe Villano and Richard Larmour will join the board in January.
They will be the first members of the GOP to have seats since onetime party member Gerard Parisi left office in 2011.
Overall, the budget calls for $10.1 million to be raised by taxes, meaning that homeowners will see their general fund taxes increase by $5.88 per $100,000 of assessed value; highway fund spending will increase taxes by $10.56 per $100,000 of assessed value.
Board members supported the budget 4-1. Outgoing board member Robert Godlewski cast the only vote against the measure.
The budget wasn’t on the Town Board’s agenda released last Friday or on a copy that was posted on Rotterdam’s website Wednesday afternoon. Board members hastily added a resolution adopting the spending plan just prior to their agenda meeting, which occurred only an hour and a half before their regular business session.
Godlewski, a persistent critic of Town Supervisor Harry Buffardi, blasted his administration for not giving the public fair warning about the impending budget approval. He also criticized the board’s unified block of Democrats and Conservatives for supporting a budget that raised expenses, cut services and imposes fees.
“The whole budget is nothing but a question of expenses and revenues,” he said during the meeting. “It’s the mix of those numbers that concerns me.”
Buffardi and his allies on the Town Board defended the budget. Board member Michael Viscusi said even with the water rate increase, town residents still will pay less than neighboring communities.
Wayne Calder, who stands to receive a $13,500 pay increase if he remains Buffardi’s deputy next year, stood up for the raises. He blasted political opponents for circulating false information about the raises.