Press-Republican

November 22, 2012

Jay holds to state tax cap

BY LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

---- — JAY — The Town of Jay’s final 2013 budget came in under the state tax-levy cap after all.

At issue was a request from AuSable Forks Ambulance Service to increase its funding so emergency-medical personnel could be hired to cover shifts when volunteers are scarce.

The town had prepared a budget with two options — one that would allow hiring the EMTs and exceed the state cap and another, under the cap but without the ambulance staff.

But after the town and squad worked out details, a third choice was created.

“The Town of Jay was able to adopt the 2013 budget under the allowable tax cap and provide 24/7 coverage to our people — a win-win for everyone,” Jay Town Supervisor Randy Douglas said.

“We were within the cap by $127. Since filing the preliminary budget, we were able to gain a better sense of our expenses and revenues anticipated for 2013.”

24/7 COVERAGE

The adopted budget has a 2.9 percent increase in the amount raised by taxes, which stays at the state tax-cap formula for Jay.

The new figures, including anticipated Tropical Storm Irene insurance recovery funds and following consultation with Ambulance Capt. William Minogue and Town Attorney Daniel Manning, enabled the Ambulance Service to reduce its original 2013 request to the Town of Jay from $54,625 to $28,111.

The Jay Town Council passed the new budget at a recent special meeting.

The budget totals about $2.6 million in appropriations, including all special districts. The tax levy goes from $1.63 million to $1.68 million for 2013.

Douglas said that, originally, Jay Budget Officer Susan Richards was asked to prepare the two proposed budgets.

The first option included the then-proposed increase of $85,351 to the ambulance budget, to provide 24/7 coverage, with a 4.82 percent levy increase. The Town of Jay would have been responsible for $54,625 of the proposed increase.

The second option excluded the paid EMTs and would have included a 1.5 percent tax-levy increase.

TOWNS SHARE COST

The towns of Jay in Essex County and Black Brook in Clinton County have a contract with the AuSable Forks Ambulance Squad to provide service to the two towns. The cost is based on the percentage of the total assessed values of each town, so each year, the towns’ costs vary.

In 2013, Jay is responsible for 64 percent of the AuSable Forks Ambulance contract, and Black Brook, 36 percent.

In 2012, the Jay tax rate for the ambulance service was 36 cents per $1,000 of assessment, $36 per year for a home assessed at $100,000. 

With this year’s increase, the tax rate will be 47 cents per $1,000 for ambulance coverage, with an increase of $11 on an assessed home of $100,000.

Under the state’s allowable tax cap, the Town of Jay’s 2013 budget could only increase $48,567, which includes an allowable carryover of $15,196 from 2012.

“Staying under the tax cap is always hard to do, with ever increasing costs such as New York State Retirement and health insurance,” Douglas said. “We are also still recovering from debt that Irene has left behind. On borrowing $2 million, that left us with $41,800 in interest expenses to repay and therefore budget in 2013.”

‘A BETTER PLACE’

Douglas said he’s proud of the work town employees did when Irene hit. Both the town and squad suffered reimbursable damage in the August 2011 storm.

“They have had to work under some dangerous conditions during Tropical Storm Irene, but they did so in a safe manner,” he said.

He said all parties involved worked together to assist the community.

“I want to thank our town board, budget officer, DPW director, employees and the AuSable Forks Ambulance Service for understanding the emotional and financial situation Irene left us in, and for all their efforts to make our town a better place.”

Email Lohr McKinstry: lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com