In an announcement at the Thursday, Nov. 9, town board meeting, officials said they have managed to whittle down next year's proposed town budget by nearly half.
The town has cut $1.2 million from the initial $80,645,000 tentative budget, reducing the proposed tax rate increase of 29 percent to 16 percent. Under the new spending plan, a home assessed at $200,000 will pay an additional $72 per year.
Last month, the town was between a rock and a hard place when it was told it would have to shoulder the lion's share of a $1.8 million county charge back for compliance with the federal Help America Vote Act. Colonie was to pay $680,416 of that tab.
After meeting with the municipal leaders, County Executive Michael Breslin agreed to propose a reduced charge back to the county Legislature, and Colonie's rate, based on its taxable value and the largest to be paid in the county, was cut from $680,416 to $222,615.
The town had originally proposed a 12 cents per $1,000 tax to cover the charge back, but, under the reduction, town taxpayers will pay 4 cents per $1,000.
Despite the reduction, town leaders say the charge is considerably more than what the town has paid in the past for Election Day costs.
We still feel that until the county absorbs 100 percent of it, we are going to keep fighting it, said Ronald Caponera, town comptroller. "We still don't know what's going to happen next year, and using the tax base (of municipalities for the charge back) is unfair."
Aside from the reduction to the charge back, the town employed a series of departmental cuts and eliminated pay raises for elected officials to keep Colonie's taxes low, said Caponera.
Salaries and wages were cut by approximately $400,000, he said. The cuts came in the form of raises and not filling positions left vacant by retirements. It is the second consecutive budget to freeze pay raises to keep costs minimal.