The 2014 budget for the town of Thurman is now under development — and despite rising costs, it’s likely to be drafted well within the state-mandated property tax cap, town supervisor Evelyn Wood said Sept. 26.
A special town meeting is to be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday Sept. 30 to craft the town’s tentative budget, which may include reinstating a summer youth program in some form, Wood said. The program was eliminated in the current year’s budget because of budgetary pressures, which included fixing up road washouts as well as spiralling health care and state retirement costs for town employees.
State law calls for Thurman to file a tentative budget by Oct. 1, and a preliminary budget by Nov. 1. Although many town administrations in the state don’t file meaningful tentative budgets, Thurman has filed them on a timely basis during Wood’s tenure.
Wood said that she expects the 2014 Thurman town budget to increase less than 1.66 percent, the prevailing level of inflation.
Wood said that she will be reccommending resuming a youth program, but it is up to the full town board to decide.
Other new budget items that may be included, depending on decisions made Monday by the board, include a contribution toward the local Sugar Loaf Mountain Seniors group, re-siding the town hall, and replacing a payload box on one of the town’s tandem dump trucks.
The board members have examined the costs of reinstating trash pickup through town — in consideration of some local citizens who objected to discontinuing it last year — but the cost was deemed to be a substantial burden on taxpayers and push taxes far beyond the mandated tax cap, Wood said. She said that resumption of the curbside pickup would raise taxes by 14.6 percent for garbage only, and about 20 percent if handling recycleables was included.
In late 2012, Wood had sought the discontinuance to keep taxes level in 2013. She also had said that charging for trash collection through property taxes was unfair to landowners who didn’t generate any trash, or owned substantial acreage.
Wood said she was happy that this year, for the first time in quite a few, pension costs for town employees have not risen.
She said that when state Comptroller Thomas DeNapoli asked for reactions to his office’s new “financial stress test” program, she wrote him back a scathing two-page letter citing the recent double-digit increases in pension fund contributions.
“It’s quite a relief that there’s no substantial increase this year,” she said, adding that virtually every major budget category would remain even with last year.
“Town department heads understand the budgetary constraints we’re working under,” she said.