Germantown cleaves to cap in budget prep

GERMANTOWN—The Town Board opened its public hearing on the 2016 budget Monday, and after some comment from board members, adjourned the hearing until tonight, Thursday, November 5 at 7 p.m.

“We still have some outstanding estimates,” said Supervisor Joel Craig, “so we’ll be doing some final tweaking.” An estimate for insurance had just come in Monday, he said, and the board needs to “nail down” the interest on the bond for the sidewalk project.

There was no public comment on the budget. November 5 is the last day the state allows for public hearings on budgets.

At this time, the total proposed expenditure for 2016 is $1,396,659, an increase of $20,305 over the current year’s total expenditure of $1,376,354.

The 2016 figure includes a 2.5% raise for all full-time town employees and nearly $12,000 for attachments for the new Bobcat Skid Steer Loader. A loader costing $38,000 has been purchased with money from the Highway Department’s reserve fund of $60,000.

The proposed property tax levy is $543,359, an increase of $11,593 over the $531,766 collected in 2015. This keeps the town’s tax below the state cap, which, for Germantown, is 0.73%.

Mr. Craig reiterated Tuesday that minor changes would be made to these figures before November 5.

The board kept spending and taxation close to that of 2015 by making reductions such as the Highway Department debt service and doing away with the $20,000 sidewalk reserve that had been on the books for years, since the sidewalk project will be bonded next year.

Overall, revenues were up, including sales tax and income from events, such as the Fourth of July celebration.

“The big unknowns are making a decision next year on renovations to the sewer plant, and if we should add lighting to the new sidewalks,” said Mr. Craig.

In a related matter, the board approved unanimously Local Law #1 of 2015, which establishes a separate line for the tax for the Germantown Public Library. Previously, the library funding—currently $58,000 per year—was listed as part of the town’s budget, but the town budget does not include library funds. Rather, the town collects the library tax and forwards it to the library.

From now on the library amount will be listed separately on the property owner’s tax bill, along with districts such as fire, lighting and sewer, where applicable.

After no public comment, the board unanimously approved the law.

In other business:

  • The town has been awarded a $5,000 grant from Hudson River Valley Greenway for reviewing the Comprehensive Plan, a review many residents have requested. “We’ll move forward with that in the New Year,” said Mr. Craig
  • The board unanimously voted to appoint Joyce Crawford to the Planning Board, effective immediately, for a term ending December 31, 2017
  • Brittany DuFresne reported for the Parks Commission that the previous weekend’s Halloween parade and been a “big success,” with over 80 children participating and “lots of people” watching. The town’s Christmas tree lighting will again take place in the hamlet on December 12, with Santa Claus, food, crafts, music and a movie in the Kellner Activity Building. Volunteers are needed
  • The traditional Thanksgiving dinner will be served on November 26, for eat in, take out or delivery. For more information, and to volunteer to help, call 518 537-6405.

All board members attended except Matthew Phelan. The next regular meeting is Monday, November 23 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.

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