Despite cuts, town plans expansion of senior services
Once again, state mandates are blamed for budget increases, but Niskayuna officials said they are trying to develop a budget that maintains services while controlling costs.
We had to do a lot of belt tightening and cutting, said Niskayuna Town Supervisor Joe Landry of the town's 2011 tentative budget.
The $12,973,785 budget would raise residential taxes by 3 percent. Landry said the average home assessed at $274,100 would see a tax increase of approximately $18.50 in the coming year.
The allocated amount from the town's fund balance is $286,800, which is an increase compared to the $273,000 that's been allocated since Landry joined the board in 2008. Although Landry has allocated this amount since he took office, in 2008 only $74,636 was used, and in 2009 $65,200 was used. Landry said the town tries to maintain a fund balance of about $750,000 to $1 million.
"It is anticipated that we might have to use some more of that," said Landry. "If I go through the year and save money all over the place, then you don't have to use it. This gives me an opportunity to go through the year and try to control spending."
Landry said the biggest challenges with the budget were state mandates and other direct costs the town had no flexibility with. Also, stagnant or decreasing revenues didn't help the situation, he said.
"I have no choice on retirement, and that is the one that is really upsetting," said Landry. "It is the fact that the state controller sends you a bill, and you have to pay that. I literally have no ability to negotiate that."
Retirement costs in the town increased 32.2 percent, totaling $204,970. The town offers three different health insurance programs, said Landry, which averages out to an 11.44 increase in associated costs.