MILTON: Taxes could drop to zero

Town Supervisor Frank Thompson released a $5.8 million tentative budget on Wednesday, Oct. 3, with hopes of reducing town taxes to zero by November when the Saratoga County tax rebates arrive.

Town taxes have been slashed each year for the past two years. In 2006, they were cut 25 percent; in 2007, residents paid 21.5 percent less in town taxes. Town Comptroller Martin Glastetter delivered the news at the end of August that tax rates for 2008 could go down by 50 percent or, in the best scenario, be eliminated entirely.

Milton is due to receive more in sales tax revenues from Saratoga County than we originally expected, and that's going to benefit us in a big way, said Glastetter.

The budget committee expects to see $276,000 above and beyond the amount originally in the 2008 budget, and gave its recommendations about where to funnel those surprise funds.

Town board members pledged to continue to cut spending to balance the budget if a no-tax status was obtained. They also agreed to consider allocating the excess tax surplus funds toward the town fund balance to reduce or eliminate taxes, rather than spending the excess on additional purchases.

"The committee believes we should use this extra money to reduce taxes further," said Glastetter.

One of the largest jumps in expenses in the 2008 spending plan is for employee benefits, which leapt from $395,000 to $421,299. Spending plans for culture and recreation maintain status quo as the board continues to seek grants for improvements to Burgess-Kimball Park and other public recreational areas. The town supervisor's salary is slated to increase from $48,101 to $49,928.

Thompson said the board has worked hard to manage the tax rates despite challenges such as keeping town roads clear in harsh winters.

"We've lowered taxes during the hardest years on our highway expenses," said Thompson. "We really got hit with a big increase on fuel and salt, and those things are hard to predict."

The tentative budget will now be reviewed in a series of workshops before being presented to the public for a hearing, and then will be formally adopted by the board by Friday, Nov. 2.""

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