Warrensburg's board members gathered in Emerson Town Hall recently and adopted a budget that calls for a zero tax increase.
The Warrensburg Town Board voted Nov. 9 to adopt a 2012 budget that calls for no tax increase for local property owners.
While the town’s total expenditures are to increase by $12,213, the tax rate is expected to stay the same at 3.27 per thousand of assessed valuation.
The town board avoided a projected tax increase by deciding to boost employees’ contributions toward health care premiums. Beginning in 2012, town employees will now contribute 10 percent, and board members will contribute 20 percent rather than receiving it at no charge.
Town Supervisor Kevin Geraghty noted that the town’s general fund appropriations were reduced by $61,000 by through employee attrition. This factor offsets an increase of $23,000 in state-mandated employee retirement payments, and a 12 percent increase in health insurance premiums, Geraghty said.
Combined with the county tax levy, Warrensburg property owners are likely to see their total tax bill decrease by 2 percent, he said.
“This is pretty good in these economic times,” Geraghty said, crediting town employees for going along with the health care program change and premium increase. The board was ready to change employees’ health care coverage from Blue Shield to Capital District Physicians Health Plan when the former entity announced a 21 percent increase, but instead decided to stay with Blue Shield after the firm made a last-minute competitive counter-offer. At the Nov. 9 meeting, the board approved the new program.
Resident Al Smith complimented the board on its work to trim government expenses for 2012.
“It’s appropriate to present a budget with a flat tax levy in these economic times,” he said.
With an eye on reducing future government expenses drastically, town board member John Alexander recommended that the town consider abolishing the policy of granting lifetime health insurance coverage to board members after 10 years of service.
“In the private sector, employees don’t get lifetime coverage after 10 years,” he said. “I enjoy the benefit, but for a part-time councilman, this is very unreasonable.”
Kevin said the board would research and review the policy.
“I’d like to get this buttoned up before the new year,” he said.
Local Resident Mike Currie said he supported such a policy change. He said that a 30-year-old serving on the town board might cost town taxpayers $400,000 or more in upcoming years under the present policy.
“We’ve got to tighten our belts and be more realistic,” he said. “The days of ‘good ole boy’ politics are gone.”
In other business, a report from a town zoning update committee is expected soon. Board member Brian Rounds, who serves on the panel, said that the group is seeking ways of boosting light commercial activity in town — in accordance with the town’s master plan.
It was reported that the state Health Department conducted tests on the town water and sewer systems, and the results were excellent.
Geraghty said the town's sewage lagoon was providing appropriate capacity.
He also said that a well driller had visited town and identified several potential sites for a new water well, including on the Warrensburg Fish Hatchery property, owned by Warren County.
“Water is our number one priority,” he said, noting that recent water tests have resulted in passing marks, with low levels of copper and lead, both problematic in past years here.
“We’re trying to be as aggressive as possible in trying to give all the people in town as good drinking water as we can,” Geraghty said.