The proposed 2012 Moriah town budget falls within the new state 2 percent tax cap. The preliminary 2012 tax levy totals $1,978,306. That’s an increase of $28,687 — 1.47 percent — from the present levy of $1,949,619.
The proposed 2012 Moriah town budget falls within the new state 2 percent tax cap.
The town’s preliminary budget totals $4,094,489. That’s an increase of $155,054 — 3.9 percent — from the current spending plan of $3,939,435.
The preliminary 2012 tax levy totals $1,978,306. That’s an increase of $28,687 — 1.47 percent — from the present levy of $1,949,619.
A public hearing on the proposed budget will be held Thursday, Nov. 10, at 5:45 p.m. at the town court house, adjacent to the town hall at Park Place in Port Henry. Supervisor Tom Scozzafava expects few, if any, changes before the spending plan is adopted by the town board.
“I support the tax cap, but if the state really wanted to cut spending they should have capped appropriations,” Scozzafava said. “The tax cap really isn’t an issue for Moriah. We haven’t had a 2 percent tax increase in a decade.”
Still, the 2012 budget has been difficult for Moriah officials. Besides the normal spending increases, the town faced a pair of major storms — in April and August — that caused widespread damage to the community.
“With the storm events we used a lot of our fund balance,” Scozzafava said. “We were very fortunate to have some extra money put aside for an emergency.”
The fund balance was not enough to cover all storm-related costs, though. The April storm caused $402,000 in damage. The costs of damage from Hurricane Irene in August is still be calculated.
Those storm repairs will not impact the 2012 budget. Moriah is expecting the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for the repairs, although Moriah may have to borrow short-term until the FEMA money arrives.
“I’m confident that FEMA will get us the money,” Scozzafava said. “I’ve been in contact with our federal representatives and have been dealing with FEMA. It may take a while, but we’ll get it.”
The storms are felt in the budget in another way. Bulwagga Bay Campsite, which normally generates about $260,000 in revenue for the town, was closed several weeks after the April storm. I produced $40,000 less than anticipated in 2011.
Revenues from mortgage tax, building permits and state aid also fell short of projections in 2011.
The 2012 budget does contain money for several significant increases. Employee health insurance has increased 15 percent, even after employees agreed to change plans and increase their own contribution. Pension costs are up 18 percent. Utility costs are up 16 percent.
Town employees as well as the highway superintendent and town clerk will get 2.5 percent pay raises in 2012. Other elected officials will get no pay hike.
The proposed budget calls for no layoffs. Scozzafava pointed out the town has been eliminating positions through attrition, noting the loss of a clerk, police officer and highway employee in recent years. To pick up the slack, he said, town office workers have extended their day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We’re fortunate that we gave great employees,” Scozzafava said. “Our spending is under control thanks to great department heads and a very conservative town board. There’s no money wasted in Moriah.”
The preliminary budget allows for no new equipment purchases and freezes spending on the youth and other programs.
Scozzafava said it’s a challenge to balance spending and public services.
“This is the most difficult budget in all my years in office,” said Scozzafava, who has been supervisor more than two decades. “We just don’t have money to spend, yet we’re still responsible to provide services to residents.”
Scozzafava thanked Becky Gilbo, principle account clerk, for her work on the spending plan.