Despite objection from residents, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors voted to adopt a $308.3 million spending plan for next year that includes a 3.5 percent property tax increase. It is the first increase in nearly a decade.
On Wednesday, Dec. 14, Supervisors Joanne Yepsen, D-Saratoga Springs, and Phil Barrett, R-Clifton Park, voted against the plan because of the tax hike, while all other members voted in favor.
Yepsen called the increase “inappropriate” given the economy, even though county officials claim the property tax will remain the lowest in the state. Barrett said he couldn’t vote on a tax increase without a more detailed financial plan for the future to present to residents.
Board Chairman Tom Wood, R-Saratoga, called the increase “modest.” Under the new budget, the average county tax rate will rise from $2.15 to $2.23 per $1,000 of assessed property value. A house assessed at $200,000 will be charged a $16 tax increase in the coming year.
“We continue to focus on maintaining the quality of life and aspects of living in Saratoga County,” Wood said. “We are proud of our county and our past achievements. And we know in the future we will continue to serve all of our residents in the most cost efficient manner.”
Nearly $10 million was cut from the original budget proposal.
The final budget reinstated funding to various programs and projects within the county that had seen financial support completely cut. Money was also found by defunding vacant positions, cutting postage costs and using a new health insurance system.
The restorations were proposed by Supervisor Art Johnson, R-Wilton.
Brookside Museum, the Saratoga County Fair and Saratoga Arts all had 50 percent of their funding restored, but were told not to expect financial support in 2013. In addition, nearly $54,000 in funds for the Capital District Regional Planning Commission were fully reinstated after the county learned it was legally obligated to support the organization.