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Glenville budget includes small tax hike

Health care, retirement costs drive increase

Thursday, September 26, 2013
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— The typical Glenville homeowner would pay about an extra $10 in taxes next year under town Supervisor Chris Koetzle’s proposed 2014 budget, which he will submit to the Town Board on Monday.

The $16.3 million spending plan would raise the tax levy by $134,000 or 1.6 percent, which falls within the town’s state-mandated 2.6 percent cap. Expenses would increase $344,210, but only to cover mandated costs like health insurance premiums and retirement obligations. The tentative budget reduces the town’s reliance on its fund balance, but most importantly, said Koetzle, it boasts no gimmicks.

“It’s a good solid budget that does not employ any gimmicks like lower taxes disguised as higher fees,” he said Thursday. “We’ve decreased non-mandated spending again, we’ve cut debt, and I think we’re finally starting to see the benefits of four years of strong fiscal management start to take hold now.”

If the town wasn’t required to pay higher health insurance costs and leave-time payouts, its 2014 expenses would actually go down by $1,286, he said. The budget includes a $48,000 increase in health insurance and worker’s compensation costs. In addition, nearly one-quarter of the town’s workforce is eligible for retirement next year, which could lead to the very daunting circumstance of having to pay out retirement and leave time to about 20 employees.

“We still do not have a full handle on who is going to retire and who is not going to retire,” said Koetzle. “We can’t go around asking people to let us know so we can craft the budget. So, we’re looking at anywhere from a $200,000 to $400,000 payout next year.”

Koetzle decided to set aside money in the budget for a payout that falls somewhere in the middle: his budget includes $296,940 for retirement and leave-time payouts.

His budget would also reduce appropriations from the fund balance by $45,519 — the continuation of an initiative Koetzle said he’s worked on since taking office.

“The analogy I like to use is that our fund balance is like your savings account,” he said. “What the previous administration got hooked on doing was using that savings account for operational expenses. But you don’t want to be paying your mortgage by taking from your savings. People use it as a crutch to try to hold taxes down, but it’s a crutch that’s going to eventually come to an end.”

Moody’s Investor Service upgraded the town’s credit rating from “good” to “strong” last year, citing its fiscal management in part due to its waning dependence on its fund balance. The upgrade allowed the town to refinance outstanding bonds and save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Koetzle’s budget includes a 1 percent raise for management and employees not represented by unions. It would reduce revenue from franchise fees from $335,000 to $310,000. It would allow for the purchase of a new police car and four new trucks or vans for public works without the use of bonds. And it would include payment of a final $20,811 on the 1995 Sewer District No. 6 bond, which retires at the end of next year.

It would increase funds from $35,000 to $40,000 for the town’s Revitalization and Economic Development Initiative, which was started four years ago as a way to invest in Glenville’s commercial corridors.

The following would also get more funding under Koetzle’s budget:

• The Scotia-Glenville Senior Citizens would see an increase from $5,500 to $6,500.

• The Freedom Park Foundation and parade would see an increase from $3,000 to $4,000.

• The town’s bulk item and leaf pickup programs would see funding increase from $20,000 to $30,000.

• Sewer cleaning, maintenance and repairs would increase from $94,600 to $110,650.

• Water maintenance and repairs would see an increase from $195,000 to $210,000.

Once the board receives Koetzle’s budget, it has until Oct. 16 to review it and make any modifications. A public hearing on a preliminary budget would then be held Nov. 17. The town must adopt a final budget by Nov. 20.

 
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