The Town of Ballston's preliminary budget, released Monday, Oct. 4, includes a new highway taxing district that Joe Whalen, the town's highway and water superintendent, opposes.
It was a very difficult budget year. You see the cities around us and the problems they're having with their budgets as well, and the economic climate is not conducive to easy budgeting, said Ballston Town Supervisor Patti Southworth.
She said she "tried everything" she could to not institute a highway tax.
"You can only cut the budget so much," said Southworth.
According to Southworth, the town's highway department works differently from highway departments in other municipalities.
"Anyone who lives outside the village would have to pay toward the highway tax, and that would be based on your assessment, just like everything else," said Southworth. "When I was trying to decide what to do when the town passed the highway tax, it didn't seem like we should put a tax on the people in the village who are already paying into the village system for their highway systems."
People in the highway district will be taxed at a rate of approximately $100 per $100,000 of assessed property value.
"In tough times, every little penny is going to hurt, and I'm very conscious of that, but at the same time, we have to run our highway department," said Southworth, who said she was working directly off of the budget Whalen handed into her. "He's the one who does the job and knows what funds he needs to provide quality work and safety."
Whalen said the creation of a taxing district took him by surprise.
"When I got it in my hands, I thought it was a misprint," said Whalen.
He said that he's still trying to figure out why the town needs a highway tax.