Niskayuna Supervisor Joe Landry presented the proposed 2009 budget at the Tuesday, Oct. 28, Town Board meeting, saying the projected 5.5 percent tax increase represented the town's best efforts to maintain services and keep the tax rate reasonable. Another part of the budget proposal, reorganizing the town's recreation department, met with mixed reaction.
Landry stated that the budget reflected the priorities of the town: maintaining public safety and emergency services, town roads, and assisting residents through their yard waste, leaf pickup and plowing services. However, he noted, the cost of fuel, salt, paving materials and many other supplies has increased a problem that all governments, businesses and individuals are facing at this time.
I want to assure you that our Town Board appreciates the burden that all taxpayers and residents are facing this year, and we have worked very hard to minimize adding more pain to all of our households," said Landry.
Niskayuna resident Linda Rizzo said she feels that any increase during this uncertain economic time is too much.
"In a way, we should be grateful [that the proposed increase is only 5.5 percent], but I'm not. I'm very angry," said Rizzo. "Do you realize we're in a deep recession, possibly headed to a depression? I have to ask, why is the tax increase going to be 5.5 percent when other towns are proposing zero? I'm extremely concerned as a taxpayer in this town. I do not believe that Niskayuna is immune from this financial tsunami. We should expect good services without having to raise taxes."
The proposal to reorganize the recreation department, including staffing changes, received a mostly positive reception.
Landry said the reorganization is necessary to continue improvements in the department and move youth programming forward. Among the staffing changes proposed is the creation of a community programs coordinator in the supervisor's office to oversee all community programs and events, and the addition of a parks and a facilities coordinator to oversee the licensing, operating and scheduling of the parks, fields, courts, town pool, and the recreation and senior center.