The Shawangunk Town Board unveiled a tentative 2022 spending plan at its Oct. 7 meeting that included a request for a 41 percent increase in spending for the Highway Department from outgoing Highway Superintendent Joseph LoCicero.
Supervisor John Valk said LoCicero’s request, which includes the purchase of three new trucks, would likely put the Town of Shawangunk over the state-mandated two percent tax cap if the Town Board approved it.
The total amount to be raised by taxpayers in the tentative 2022 budget is $6,582,356, an increase of $758,173 over the amount raised by taxpayers in 2021.
“The way it stands now, we’d need to override the tax cap and I don’t know if this board is prepared to do that,” Valk said.
The Highway Department’s 2022 proposed spending plan to be paid for by taxpayers is $2,757,963, an increase of $823,274 over the $1,934,689 adopted in 2021 by the Town Board.
“Our big decision right now is how much we’re going to appropriate for new highway equipment and for fixing roads,” Valk told the Wallkill Valley Times following the meeting. “Right now, it shows a 41 percent increase. We need to cut that. We can’t increase taxes that much.”
LoCicero, who will leave the Highway Department at the end of the year after unsuccessfully challenging Valk for the Republican nomination for Supervisor in the party caucus, didn’t attend the Oct. 7 meeting. Valk said he expected the board to review the budget request with LoCicero next week.
Valk estimated at least $735,000 needed to be slashed from LoCicero’s proposed spending plan.
“He (LoCicero) feels the new Highway Superintendent should be able to do more roads,” Valk explained of the request for three new trucks. “Those things we can get into next week.”
Valk said the board would review the budgets for both the Highway Department and the Fire Districts next week. Then in two weeks, the Water and Sewer District spending plans would be discussed.
The proposed budget includes $1,602,127 in taxpayer funds raised for the general town wide fund. That’s a $28,766 increase over the amount to be raised for the fund in 2021.
The tentative Police Department budget shows an increase of less than $20,000. The new budget would be $940,509 compared to $920,689 in 2021.
Under the 2022 tentative budget, elected town officers and non-contractual employees will receive a two percent pay raise.
The Highway Superintendent is the Town of Shawangunk’s highest-paid elected official under the tentative spending plan at $57,539 annually. Other salaries that will increase two percent will be the Town Clerk/Tax Collector ($54,787), Supervisor ($36,668), two Town Justices ($16,001 each) and the four Town Councilmen ($13,155 each).
When all is said and done, Valk thinks the town will be under the tax cap again in 2022.
“I’m confident we will,” Valk said. “They started with the tax cap in 2012, I believe, and we’ve always stayed below it.”