Delving into budgetary details, Warrensburg Town Supervisor Kevin Geraghty punches the keys on his desk calculator Thursday Oct. 4 in his office in the Emerson Town Hall.
Regardless of soaring pension costs, increased fuel expenses and employee pay raises, the town of Warrensburg’s tentative 2013 budget is drafted to slide underneath the state tax cap by $38,730.
The Warrensburg Town Board endorsed the tentative budget Oct. 3 in a special meeting. It is subject to revision before a public hearing in early November.
The budget features appropriations of $2.6 million, an increase of 2.2 percent over 2012. These expenditures are offset by $1.3 million in revenues, leaving $1.12 million to be raised in taxes, a 2.34 percent increase over 2012. The resulting tax rate is expected to be $3.35 per thousand, a 2.2 percent increase over 2012.
This hike would amount to a $7.30 cent increase in town taxes for a $100,000 property. The increase would be only $5, however, for homes in the lighting district, according to figures supplied by town Supervisor Kevin Geraghty. This decrease is due to reduced expenses in street lighting.
This tax hike easily complies with the state’s so-called two percent tax cap law, because the legislation allows municipalities particular amounts to pay for such expenses as pension increases and some construction projects. The state formula to determine whether a municipality is raising taxes “under 2 percent” includes such factors as changes in the value of property in the taxing district.
The budget relies on sales tax revenue increase 7 percent to $685, but allows for a 23 percent increase in fuel and repair costs for the highway department, provides for a projected 17 percent increase in employee pension expenses, and grants raises for employees and board members.
Also, the budget draws $100,000 from fund balance, which has been a tradition for years.
Although employees will be receiving a 2 percent salary increase — and town board members a comparable hike — Kevin Geraghty did not give himself any increase.
The budget also reflects savings of over $110,000 due to two fewer employees in the town Public Works department than 18 months ago. Town Supervisor Kevin Geraghty praised the existing employees for shouldering many of the duties once associated with the two positions.
At the board meeting, several board members expressed concern about how restrictive the budget was, suggesting it be increased closer to the sum dictated by the state tax cap.
Scuttled in the budget were needed repairs to the deteriorating Floyd Bennett Memorial Bandstand as well as to the town Senior Center. The board had also talked earlier this year of replacing a crumbling retaining wall at the town beach on Echo Lake — a project that is now likely to be postponed for another year, Geraghty said.
“Considering the financial stresses that many of our citizens are now facing, we need to budget as conservatively as possible,” he said.