Home value rise helps county budget

HUDSON–The Columbia County Board of Supervisors adopted the 2016 County Budget for at its December 9 meeting. The budget calls for spending $146.6 million, of which 28.3% ($41.5 million) is expected from a tax levy. The 2016 tax levy exceeds this year’s amount to be raised by taxes by $302,000. But the tax rate per thousand dollars in assessed value will decrease from 5.96 in 2015 to 5.91 in 2016.

The tax rate is going down because property values have risen, so the County will receive more taxes overall using the lower tax. The most recent average home value in the county, according to documents distributed at the meeting, stands at $223,065.

Total spending is expected to decrease by $1.2 million over the current budget. The county fiscal year is the calendar year, January through December.

In a letter dated December 8 that accompanied the budget Kinderhook Supervisor Pat Grattan (R), chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said that this year the operating subsidy for the county’s Pine Haven nursing and rehabilitation facility in Philmont had risen to $4.7 million, four times what was budgeted for 2015, and more funds will be required. Much of that was due to the failure of the state and federal governments to make promised reimbursements still owed to the county.

Mr. Grattan said the sale last year of the nursing home to a private operator will “enhance the fiscal stability of the county….” He said the funds from that Pine Haven sale and would be deposited in the same “tax stabilization fund” that now holds the money from the sale of the old Ockawamick School in Claverack. Mr. Grattan anticipates the tax stabilization fund would be used as a “funding source to meet the challenges of future budgets.”

Before the board meeting, the board allotted time for a public hearing on the budget but nobody from the audience spoke up. The audience section had more seats empty than occupied, and a county official was overheard to say he thought more people would come that night.

When time came to vote on the budget, all supervisors present except one voted for it. The supervisor who voted against it was Raymond Staats of Clermont. Mr. Staats gave two reasons for opposing the budget: for non-union county employees, the budget inconsistently provides 3%-25% raises for some but no raises for others; and he said, “There are millions of dollars of revenue that stayed unclassified. This would more than cover the $300,000 increase in taxes.”

Also at the December 9 meeting, Supervisors Arthur Baer (D-Hillsdale) and Michael Benson (R-New Lebanon), both of whom will leave office at the end of the year, received plaques recognizing them for their service.

“I have been very fortunate through my career to have been employed in a variety of interesting positions. But being a supervisor has been one of the most challenging, frustrating and rewarding positions. Thank-you, residents of Hillsdale, who have supported me in the past 12 years,” said Mr. Baer, who also served as chairman of the Board of Supervisors.

The next meeting of the full board is scheduled for Wednesday, December 30 at 4 p.m. at 401 State Street.

COLUMBIA COUNTY  2016 BUDGET SUMMARY

–% Covered by–

Fund        Appropriation     Taxes         Other revenue

General*   $112,503,031      27.4%           72.6%

 

Capital            11,851,500          9.5%           90.5%

 

County Road 10,473,991       78.1%           21.9%

 

Pine Haven       5,598,602            0%            100%

 

Solid Waste       3,126,094          32.8%          67.2%

 

Machinery        2,834,392          13.9%          86.1%

 

Sewer District       142,263            0%            100%

 

Water District       79,350              0%            100%

 

TOTAL          $146,609,223           28.3%          71.7%

___

* General Fund sub-categories include:

Employee Benefits… $14,152,640

Public Safety… $13,928,794

Public Health… $13,636,346

Other… $70,785,251

 

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