Johnsburg Town Hall
The town of Johnsburg’s tentative 2014 budget calls for a tax increase of about 3 percent, which is under the allowable 3.8 percent granted by the state, and town leaders will hold a budget hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7 at the Wevertown Community Center.
Johnsburg Town Supervisor Ron Vanselow calls this a “pretty straightforward” budget. His goal for the budget this year was to continue directing funds, and increasing them when possible, to priority segments of town spending.
“I’m gradually trying to reallocate funds and spend them where it looks like we need to, like bringing up the highway and some of those budget lines,” Vanselow said. “And I’m trying to devote more resources to working on town property and our building.”
The overall town budget spending, including special districts, is $2,883,722. That includes $2,355,079 for the townwide funds: General, $1,108,999; Highway, $1,174,280; and Library, $71,800. Plus, it includes three special districts: North Creek Water, $125,000; North Creek Fire, $157,061; and Johnsburg Fire, $246,582.
The total amount to be raised by taxes is $1,383,142. That includes $1,018,249 for the townwide General, Highway and Library funds; and $364,893 for the two fire districts.
There aren’t any big-ticket items for 2014, but there is money to give raises to some of the Town Hall employees, according to Vanselow.
The supervisor ($23,289) and town council members ($4,147 each) will not be getting raises. The other salaries for elected officials are: $12,720 for justice; $22,604 for town clerk/tax collector; and $50,000 for highway superintendent.
“The highway workers are under contract, so that’s automatic,” Vanselow said. “We’re raising the highway superintendent a little bit.”
There is more money for mowing cemeteries and for town buildings, and Town Board members raised a couple lines in the highway budget to be more “realistic,” according to the supervisor.
“Some of those lines are pretty drastically underfunded, and it takes a while to build them up to where they should be,” Vanselow said.
So what does this mean for taxpayers? The townwide tax rate is estimated at $114.91 per thousand assessed, an increase of 3.06 percent. That does not include fire districts (North Creek FD is $53.98 per thousand and Johnsburg FD is $36.26 per thousand).
The town of Johnsburg has not facilitated a revaluation in many years; therefore, its properties are not assessed at a 100 percent equalization rate like they are required to be by the state Office of Real Property Services.
“We’re not at full value,” Vanselow said. “It’s like 2 percent (equalization rate), so if you have a house that is valued at $50,000, its assessed value on your tax sheet is only going to say $1,000. So that $114.91 is per thousand.”
Johnsburg is one of only two towns in Warren County that are not at full value.
“We’ve not had a reval here ever, I think,” Vanselow said. “And that’s one of our goals … we’ve gradually been storing up funds in the capital reserve to do this.”
The town was going to initiate a revaluation a couple years ago when the state was handing out funds to help towns get their EQ rates to 100 percent with reassessments. Even Warren County had a pilot program that could have helped.
“But all those forms of assistance have gone away, so we’re going to have to do it ourselves” Vanselow said. “And it’s not always a pleasant experience. The general rule for this type of thing is that a third of the people will go up, a third will go down and a third will stay the same. But it’s not fair to not have the proper value to assign to properties.”
In another part of the budget, the board has tentatively agreed to extend the current fire contract for one year. That would increase the amount each company gets by 2 percent.
Even after the Nov. 7 public hearing, Town Board members can make changes to the budget before approving it. For example, the supervisor expects that there may be an amendment to change the amount the town is spending on insurance. That change could free up more money for other projects, such as buildings and grounds, and programming for the library and youth committee.
Residents may see a copy of the tentative 2014 budget at the Johnsburg Town Hall in North Creek or on the town’s website at www.johnsburgny.com.