Johnsburg Town Hall
Johnsburg taxpayers can anticipate a property tax increase less than the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap, Supervisor Ron Vanselow indicated at a Town Board meeting at Scout Hall in Sodom on Tuesday, Oct. 16.
Vanselow’s preliminary General Fund budget calls for an increase of less than 1 percent, he told residents. But when all unsettled issues are factored in, Vanselow expects the tax increase to be about 1.5 percent.
The preliminary spending plan calls for General Fund spending of about $1.2 million. Included in the budget is an increase of 12 percent for employee health insurance. Though substantial, Town Secretary Cherie Ferguson said, the increase is far less than the 22 percent increase encountered in the 2012 General Fund budget.
Still unresolved is whether the town will continue its contribution to the Depot Museum. The preliminary budget contains nothing for the museum but Vanselow said he was open to including some funding if an acceptable arrangement could be agreed upon. In 2012, the town provided $7,500 to the museum. Museum board president Helen Miner said the museum would have a difficult time functioning if that amount was withdrawn all at once.
Vanselow agreed to meet with Miner to explore other options such as grants, occupancy tax funding or even seeking financial input from the railroad that brings passengers to the depot.
Also unresolved is the degree to which the town will contribute funding to the Hudson Headwaters Health Center in North Creek. In the current budget year, the town contributed $28,000. Vanselow is proposing a reduction of $4,000. That idea didn’t sit well with Councilman Gene Arsenault.
“That’s a vital service,” Arsenault said. “Here we are cutting away at it. I don’t believe it’s wise to do that.”
Arsenault said he’d not only like to see the funding cut restored but he’d like to see the funding returned to the pre-2012 level of $32,000. He suggested having Hudson Headwaters Chief Development Officer Edward “Trip” Shannon meet with the board to discuss exactly what the town gets in return for its contribution. Vanselow agreed that the board should hear from Shannon and said he should come to the Nov. 8 board meeting because the public would likely be interested in hearing what Shannon has to say.
The funding level for Hudson Headwaters isn’t etched in stone, Vanselow stressed.
“We still have time to have that conversation,” Vanselow said. “There’s room (in the budget to make adjustments.)”
In crafting the budget proposal, Vanselow said he tried to be conservative and not be too optimistic about what revenues would be. He noted that in 2012, sales tax receipts are up about 5 percent over 2011.
The public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the budget at a public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 8 at the Wevertown Community Center. Copies of the proposed budget will be available at Town Hall this week and the proposed budget will also be posted on the town website www.johnsburgny.com