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Public offers mixed reviews on Niskayuna budget

An ongoing debate about the reorganization of the town's recreation department extended into a Thursday, Nov. 6, public hearing on the proposed 2009 Niskayuna town budget.

The budget includes an estimated 5.5 percent tax increase.

Town Supervisor Joe Landry broke down the proposed budget in a presentation, stating that most of the major circumstances leading to the tax increase include contractual salary increases, increased fuel and energy costs, increased benefit costs and increased salt and asphalt costs. Landry also said that non-property tax revenues are down.

The budget was met with mixed reviews by the public, but the hot topic continued to be the town's Recreation Department. Part of the department's reorganization involved staffing changes, which the board agreed would ultimately save the town money.

I think if we have to tighten our fiscal belts in our home [due to the economic crisis], I think the town has to do the same. I don't know what process was used in developing this budget I don't believe that any budget is without fat. I feel there's something inherently wrong here, [and] I would hope you would reconsider this:I don't believe this is vital to the town of Niskayuna, said Niskayuna resident Linda Rizzo.

Niskayuna resident Lorine Zabin spoke against the increase."I have paid taxes with increases for 31 years " we paid increased county, town, whatever " and I think my purpose in coming tonight is to tell you that taxes need to be reduced. We have always taken care of the roads, we have always taken care of the children, we have always found money to buy new parks and new basketballs " but the fact remains that after seeing some of the other communities in upstate New York and in the Tri-City area reducing their taxes increases to 0 percent, I was encouraged that perhaps Niskayuna would find in its heart a way to do the same thing," said Zabin.

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