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BALLSTON SPA: Village hammers out budget

A new villagewide budget calls for a tax increase of about $3.50 a month for residents of Ballston Spa.

The budget, just voted in by trustees, totals $5.44 million. Prior to being whittled down through a series of work sessions scrutinizing the document line by line, the total spending plan would have raised taxes 10.3 percent. But after a process that was the most detailed in years, the increase was set at 6 percent.

We compared each line item with budgets going back to 2003, said village Mayor John Romano. "This takes into account all the historic data and the trends. This is probably the most accurate budget we've ever produced."

The village board has a good record of holding the line on taxes. In the 12 years of the current administration, the board has upped taxes five times, representing a cumulative total 24 percent increase duringthe past 12 years.

The tax rate in the 2007-2008 village budget is $76.54 per $100,000 in assessed valuation, an increase of $4.33 per $100,000 over the previous rate. The village of Ballston Spa uses a fractional assessment rate of 7 percent of full valuation. Thus, a home with a median value of $9,500 will be taxed an additional $3.43 per month, or a total of $41.14 per year more than the previous rate.

Village employees earned a 4 percent raise across the board, including salaried and hourly full- and part-time workers. There are fewer than 50 village employees.

The mayor and board members Bob Cavanaugh, Dick Duffy, Stuart Hodsoll and Donna Thomas refused to write in a pay increase for their jobs for the 12th consecutive year.

Managing employee benefits continues to take a toll on the village budget. A whopping $146,400 is allocated in the new budget for the pension/retirement fund.

"Our share of contributions went from $20,000 just five years ago to the $146,400 today," said Roman. "This has really cut into the fund reserves, but it's the cost of doing business in the public sector."

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