The 2012 Crown Point town budget will meet the new state 2 percent tax cap. How and by how much remains to be seen. The town board adopted a $1.87 million preliminary budget during a special meeting Nov. 1. That preliminary spending plan calls for a 4.9 percent tax increase — more than twice the 2 percent state tax cap.
The 2012 Crown Point town budget will meet the new state 2 percent tax cap.
How and by how much remains to be seen.
The town board adopted a $1.87 million preliminary budget during a special meeting Nov. 1. That preliminary spending plan calls for a 4.9 percent tax increase — more than twice the 2 percent state tax cap.
“We’re going to be under the cap,” Supervisor Bethany Kosmider said. “I’m not pleased with this budget. We have work to do.”
Trustee Tom Walters agreed.
“At this point we’re above the (tax) cap,” he said. “We have to get below it; we have no choice.”
The state tax cap law allows municipalities to exceed the 2 percent increase, but only if they adopt a local law allowing for the increase. Crown Point has not adopted such a law.
A public hearing on the preliminary budget will be held Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 6 p.m. at the Crown Point fire house.
The preliminary spending plan totals $1,873,443. That’s a $132,672 increase — 7.6 percent — from the present budget of $1,740,771.
The preliminary tax levy for 2012 is $1,092.153. That’s an increase of $51,675 — 4.9 percent — from the present tax levy of $1,040,478.
Kosmider and Walters said the town board will meet after the public hearing to get the tax levy down to 2 percent or below. How they reduce the levy and by how much are the questions.
The board can make cuts to services, programs, salaries and other line items. It can use its fund balance to reduce the tax burden. Or, it can reduce the levy by a combination of cuts and fund balance use.
Crown Point has a healthy fund balance. The town has an extra $271,440 in its general fund and another $182,648 in its highway budget.
“We have fund balance if we chose to use it,” Kosmider said. “If we can’t find another way, it’ll have to be fund balance.”
Walters agreed using fund balance is a possible solution, but he’s wary of reducing the town’s “rainy day” money.
“It might be a mistake to use too much of the fund balance,” Walters said. “You like to keep that fund balance for a rainy day.”
The preliminary 2012 budget cuts no services, employee positions or programs.
Complicating the budget planning is employee health insurance. The town board has received three different estimates on the cost of health insurance for next year, ranging from $49,000 to $83,000. The preliminary budget includes the higher health insurance projection. If the cost is less, that helps lower the tax levy.
Kosmider believes the budget can be reduced significantly before its adoption.
“I won’t be satisfied with 2 percent,” she said. “I want it to be less than that. That’s my goal.”
Walters doesn’t know if less than 2 percent is possible.
“It’s nice to have goals,” he said. “We’ve done well with taxes over the years. The state wants 2 percent or less. We’re done that for years without the state telling us to.”