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Colonie proposes modest tax increase

Town officials have turned over a nearly $83 million budget to the public for review.

Although Colonie is facing many of the same hurdles hitting other municipal budgets next year, town officials are proposing its smallest increase in recent years.

At a 4.3 percent, or $3.4 million, increase over last year's $79.5 million budget, homes assessed at the town average of $200,000 will see an increase of $20 on next year's tax bill under the proposal.

If passed, next year's homestead rates would increase by 3.8 percent, or 10 cents, making the combined rate $2.75 per $1,000. Commercial properties would see a slightly larger increase of 17 cents, resulting in a 4.9 percent increase at $3.63 per $1,000.

Supervisor Mary Brizzell and Comptroller Ronald Caponera sat down Tuesday, Oct. 3, to pitch the fiscal plan they say is moving the town toward controlling rising costs as well as chipping away at a three-year, $8 million deficit.

We put a financial plan in place, and we stuck to it, said Brizzell.

Colonie is also looking at more than $5 million not budgeted for 2008 in land sales, including its share of the county-owned Heritage Park site, as well as the possible sale of the Colonie Community Center on Central Avenue.

Caponera mentioned several ongoing concerns that have historically hit the town's books hard at several times the cost of inflation. Among the largest increase in 2008's tentative budget comes by way of state retirement system contributions, budgeted at $4.3 million.

"These costs have escalated so fast, our revenue streams can't keep pace. They have escalated far beyond the cost of inflation," said Caponera.

The increases have climbed drastically in as little as five years, he said. By 2008, liability and workers compensations coverage, health insurance premiums, energy costs and unfunded state mandates are being budgeted at just above $7.5 million.

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