Rotterdam passes $12.8M budget

Rotterdam residents can expect a lower tax increase than previously anticipated for 2007. The board approved a preliminary budget at the Wednesday, Nov. 15, meeting, resulting in a tax hike of 5.9 percent, down from the 8.9 percent originally estimated.

The board approved the preliminary budget, leaving it open for possible amendments and changes.

I can expect amendments to be made at the December meeting, said councilman John Mertz.

Mertz also suggested that the board consider an amendment to approve a new building for the town police department. Mertz said, in order to establish a timeline for the building, the board will need to see if any money can be moved within the existing budget.

Mertz said police Chief James Hamilton has suggested the department could save approximately $14,000 in overtime pay to help financially support a new building.

"I think we need to send a message that we as a town board support the police department," said Mertz.

The budget total is at $12.8 million, with $3.7 million going to highway costs. The average taxpayer, with a home assessed at $4,000, can expect to see an increase of $32. The rate will be $147 per $1,000 of assessed home value.

The board dropped an appeal to the state Supreme Court regarding the rezoning of the Burdeck Street corridor. Earlier this year, the town attempted to have the property rezoned in an effort to prevent Wal-Mart from building a supercenter on the property. Wal-Mart has since pulled its offer for the store, and the area will now remain zoned as industrial, retail and residential.

"By dropping the lawsuit, we prevent spending any more money unnecessarily," said Supervisor Steve Tommasone.

Last month, the board passed a "critical impact" law, which gives them the power to veto any projects larger than 100,000 square feet that might have a negative impact on an area.

Tommasone said the law is meant to protect residents and local businesses from unwanted development.

Town attorney Gerard Parisi said any development with more than 75 units is also subject to veto under the law.

"Many felt that Super Wal-Mart would have a detrimental impact. The critical impact law gives the town board a power that the planning board is limited to," said Parisi.""

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