Reserve funds bolster Ghent budget

GHENT–The Town Board adopted a $2 million budget for 2014 last week, a measure that will yield a tax increase of what Acting Town Supervisor Larry Van Brunt said is about 1%.

The budget was impacted by a drop in assessments and was balanced by using over $468,000 in reserve funds.

The total budget amounts to $2,010,544, including $779,320 in the General Fund and $1,231,224 in the Highway Fund, a projected spending increase of less than $8,000 over the current year.

The budget was approved Thursday, November 7, by the board during the meeting that followed a public hearing on the budget.

Mr. Van Brunt said the 2014 tax rate for town residents will be $1.06 per thousand dollars of assessed value, up from 0.97 cents per thousand in 2013. He said that for a home assessed at $300,000, the tax payment would be $27 more next year.

“We went from 108% in 2012 to 100% now in our assessment levels, so we had less numbers to work with,” he said. “It’s really a fair and balanced budget. We really tried to keep everything down this year because of the decrease in the assessed value.”

The total amount to be raised from property taxes is $456,551, which includes $223,180 for the General Fund and $233,371 for the Highway Fund. That’s more than $53,000 less than this year’s tax levy of $509,610. The new budget uses $468,593 from the 2013 fund balance.

Also at the November 7 meeting, the board:

*Approved fire contracts with three fire departments for 2014. Funding for the Ghent and West Ghent departments remained the same at $138,000 and $110,000, respectively. The Chatham Fire Department will see a small increase to $22,899.

*Passed a resolution recognizing board member Linda Hess, who is retiring from the town council when her term ends on December 31.

“The Town of Ghent has been fortunate to have a dedicated public servant who, since 1997, has shown genuine concern regarding the issues facing the town and its residents…,” said Mr. Van Brunt as he read from the resolution. “The Town Board wishes to express utmost appreciation to Linda for the work she has done in a fair an honest approach for the Town of Ghent…. The Town Board of the Town of Ghent recognizes Linda’s years of service and wishes her good health and best wishes as she begins a new chapter of her life. She will be missed.”

“It’s been a pleasure,” said Ms. Hess, as she was presented with flowers by Town Clerk Michelle Radley. “It’s been good. It really has.”

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