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COLONIE: Town budget passes

Colonie officials fielded suggestions by board members and taxpayers, including raising taxes and reducing town salaries, leading up to the Thursday, Nov. 15, approval of the 2008 budget.

Outgoing board member Kevin Bronner said the town should whittle down managerial salaries to begin chipping away at the town's $8.5 million deficit. At the Nov. 9 meeting, one resident's recommendation to boost taxes to offset increasing costs was met with applause.

Those suggestions fell short, and the budget passed as proposed at $83 million, a 4.3 percent, or $3.4 million, increase over last year's $79.5 million budget. Under the budget, homes assessed at the town average of $200,000 will see an increase of about $20 on next year's tax bill.

Homestead rates will increase by 3.8 percent, or 10 cents, making the combined rate $2.75 per $1,000. Commercial properties will see a slightly larger increase of 17 cents, resulting in a 4.9 percent increase at $3.63 per $1,000.

Bronner's plan to cut $631,000 from the budget was ultimately rejected by the town.

Most of them (the cuts) were subject to salaries and non-salaries, said Town Comptroller Ronald Caponera.

Contracts are in place that could not allow for cuts in managerial salaries, he said.

"So we are leaving the budget where it stands," Caponera said.

Although Bronner's 44 suggestions to cut town costs were tabled, he did remark before voting against the budget that the town has done well to keep taxes to a minimum despite annual cost increases outside the board's control. Bronner pointed out that health care costs alone have increased 73 percent since 2000.

"Even though that happened, we were able to keep the general fund at 1.19 percent growth," he said.

Bronner went on to list several town offices that have repeatedly seen revenue growth despite million-dollar increases in the cost of doing business.

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