Press-Republican

October 8, 2012

Town of Plattsburgh tentative budget under tax cap

Town of Plattsburgh tentative budget brings 1.2% tax-levy increase

By DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Town of Plattsburgh’s 2013 tentative budget carries a 1.2 percent increase in the tax levy.

The town would raise $3.085 million in taxes in 2013, up from $3.05 million in 2012. That easily meets the 2 percent property-tax-levy-increase standard established by New York state.

Town Supervisor Bernie Bassett credited the department heads and Budget Officer Diane Miller on developing a great starting point.

“Our town budget officer has done another outstanding job to develop a (tentative) town budget by working with our department heads to give us a document that starts below the cap,” he said.

They were able to stay under the cap despite retirement contributions increasing from $418,000 in 2012 to $531,000 in 2013. Those costs are projected to go up to $614,000 in 2014.

Bassett said the tentative budget represents what each department head sees as needed for the upcoming year, but is only a starting point toward a final spending plan. 

“We are in the process of scheduling meetings with our department heads to go over their budgets,” he said.

HIGHWAY LEVY

Bassett said the town continues to look at both short-term and long-term needs, such as infrastructure improvements that will allow the town to continue to grow.

“We generate a legitimate budget that reflects our needs and goals,” he said.

In the tentative budget, appropriations increase 4.28 percent, from $15.5 million to $16 million. The town can apply county sales-tax revenue and a $724,701 appropriated fund balance to eliminate the need for a general-fund tax levy, the supervisor said. 

Bassett said the town doesn’t maintain a built-in general fund balance from year to year. The money is the result of conservative budgeting and sales-tax revenue during the previous year.

Highway-fund appropriations increase from $2.4 million in 2012 to $2.58 million.

For the fourth year, the town will have a highway-fund tax levy. The levy is set to increase from $700,000 to $725,000, with a tax rate of 67 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. 

Bassett said that is one of the lowest highway-department tax rates in the region.

Appropriations for the Water and Sewer Department would increase from $2.06 million to $2.157 million.

ALL PAY FOR LIGHTING

In the Consolidated Ambulance District, appropriations would go from $925,000 to $950,000, with $450,000 of that to be raised by taxes. The tax rate would increase from 36 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to 38 cents.

The town’s move to create a townwide Consolidated Lighting District rather than having nine lighting districts and acquire streetlight infrastructure from New York State Electric and Gas has increased appropriations there from $219,300 to $284,100, with $174,000 to be raised by taxes. 

Residents of lighting districts paid a tax rate that ranged from 19 cents per $1,000 to 28 cents in 2012. In the Consolidated District, all town property owners would pay 15 cents per $1,000.

“We consolidated our ambulance districts because we saw the value of trying to level the cost of service to all residents of the Town of Plattsburgh,” Bassett said. “We’ve done the same with the lighting districts.”

Consolidated Water Department appropriations would increase from $2.258 million to $2.349 million. The tax rate would go from 91 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to 93 cents.

For the Base Water District, appropriations would increase from $272,687 to $347,526. The tax rate would rise from $4.52 per $1,000 to $4.61.

RAISES 

In the third year of a three-year contract, town employees are set to receive a 2.8 percent raise. Bassett said that, as part of that agreement, the town was able to eliminate automatic step-system increases and get new employees to contribute more toward insurance costs.

Elected officials would also see a 2.8 percent raise. Bassett said that works out to a total of about $8,000.

The supervisor would receive $72,344, while the deputy supervisor would be paid $15,395. The other town councilors would get $14,409 each.

The highway superintendent is set to receive $70,334. The receiver of taxes and town clerk would each be paid $28,972.

The town justices would each receive $32,553.

Holly Sims of the Cumberland Head Taxpayers Association said they want to wait to comment on the budget until they get a chance to study the full line-item version, which they expect to receive soon.

A public hearing on the tentative budget has yet to be scheduled.

Email Dan Heath dheath@pressrepublican.com

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FIRE-DISTRICT RATES

The tentative 2013 tax rates for the fire districts in the Town of Plattsburgh are: Morrisonville, up from 76 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to 77 cents; Cumberland Head, unchanged at $1.45; District 3, down from $1.17 to $1.14; South Plattsburgh, up from $2.28 to $2.33; and Cadyville, down from $1.09 to $1.08.