By Mark Reynolds
Last week the Plattekill Town Board approved their 2021 Preliminary Budget, which will become their final budget at their next meeting on November 18.
The budget appropriations total is $5,819,207, which includes the General and Highway; the Modena, Clintondale and Plattekill fire departments; and the library, lighting and drainage districts.
The amount in revenues is expected to reach $1,028,649 and the board approved tapping the unexpended fund balance by $635,000, leaving the amount to be raised by the tax levy at $4,155,558.
The tax cap was 1.56% and the budget increase came under that at 1.34%.
An average home assessed at $199,000 will see a town tax bill of approximately $1,990.
The salary for Supervisor is $35,182, an increase of $774 from 2020; Town Councilmen each at $26,569, an increase of $585; Town Clerk at $44,277, an increase of $975; and Highway Superintendent at $58,500, an increase of $1,278. The two town Justices remained the same at $42,000 each
“This was an especially tough budget this year [and] we are dipping into our reserves a little bit,” Supervisor Joe Croce said. “There has been a sharp drop off in revenues, which certainly we were not anticipating when we did the 2020 budget, long before the pandemic. We still have very adequate reserves and I feel the town is in sound financial condition.”
Croce said sales taxes that come from the county were fairly good, “though I think we will not hit the number that we budgeted for [and] the mortgage tax is up somewhat, which again is a reflection of what is going on in the state and the country. The real estate market from all that I am hearing has been very, very active. People are getting big prices and getting into bidding wars to buy other people’s houses.”
Croce said because of the pandemic the town does not know what is going to happen and when from a financial perspective.
“The most severe loss of revenue that our town experienced was in court revenue because the court was shut down totally for at least 4 months and we anticipate that revenue every year and we were very short,” he said. “Aid from the state is very much up in the air and it just makes it very difficult.”
Croce said he is thankful for everyone’s hard work compiling a budget.
“I am always grateful when we put the budget together. The Town Board and the department heads did a lot of work and I think we did as good a job as could be expected. I think it’s a sound budget and I don’t like to raise taxes, but I think a 1.34% increase is not that much,” he said.
Even with a tight budget Croce said most employees, “are getting a 2.25% increase and for some people that was in their contract for 2021.” He said there are contract negotiations that are coming up, “and in next year’s budget I don’t know that we’re going to be that generous.” In the town hall there is the United Public Service Employees Union, whose 3-year contract is in effect until the end of 2021, and for the police there is the Police Benevolent Association, whose contract runs out in December 2020.
Croce said, “The board had some tough decisions to make and we made them and I’m pleased with what we did; I think it was a good job. I do believe it’s the first overall increase that we’ve had since 2013. There was half a percent last year but for 6 years running we’ve been at zero.”