A traditional fall activity at the town is to prepare a budget for the coming year. Our budget officer has worked hard to review the previous year's needs, budget trends and organize a working draft. Departments have considered their needs and goals as they submit their individual budgets for our review and approval. This past year, the town has also felt the impact of the economic downturn. Though we have forged forward and many new jobs have been created there have also been closures. Our local economy has not felt the same impact as others but we have not been spared.
I commend our department heads for accepting the challenge to hold the line and bring to the board budget requests that are considerate of the times. As of this date, less ambulance and fire department budgets, the town's tentative budget has grown only about 1.5 percent over 2009. This includes contractual obligations, salaries, and increases in insurance and retirement. Unfortunately, our revenue side of the budget has been impacted as well. The end of PILOT payments and lower sales tax revenue created a gap that needs to be filled.
A municipality has many responsibilities and basic services that must be provided. The expression, "There is no such thing as a free lunch!" can have many interpretations but mostly it reminds us there is a cost for most everything we do and have. Still, we will continue to be the envy of many other municipalities when comparing our cost of government to the services provided.
It has been another month of many meetings, special events, communications, budget activity, drafting new resolutions, proposing policies, developing local ordinances, day to day management, etc. and soon we start all over again as Jan. 1, 2010, brings a new year and new challenges.
I will continue to monitor the decisions of our legislators in Albany and Washington while working locally to bring new jobs and economic opportunity to our town. A growing community is a healthy community and, as town supervisor, I plan to continue the progress!
Bernie Bassett is the supervisor of the town of Plattsburgh. His column appears regularly in the Clinton County Free Trader Today.