Despite a lot of doom and gloom forecastingor alternatively, because of itthe Town of Bethlehem finished off 2010 and is into 2011 in better fiscal shape than anticipated.
So says town Comptroller Suzanne Traylor, who on Wednesday, May 25, brought an update to the Town Board that showed the town ended 2010 with revenues about $1.7 million ahead of expenditures. That's considerably better than the adopted budget, which assumed the town would have to dip into savings. Instead, it will be growing them.
The reasons are tied to a number of things, including a dry summer (which meant the water fund took in more fees) an easy winter early on (less expenses for the highway department) and conservative budgeting, said Traylor.
The numbers for 2011 are also positive. Through April, the town is running within budget and is now receiving a greater share of Albany County sales tax than expected, thanks to population growth shown in the 2010 Census. Sales tax is a big part of the town's revenue stream and is a perennial cause for concern because it can be tough to predict.
The town will be receiving over $100,000 more in sales tax for the first quarter than budgeted.
"I think we're in good shape. I think we were fiscally conservative in this 2011 budget," Traylor said.
She cautioned that there are challenges ahead for the town, including the increasingly likely adoption of a 2 percent state property tax cap while pension and healthcare costs continue to climb. Importantly, the town also has a number of issues that demand potentially expensive solutions.
"The Town Board is going to have to make some tough decisions in the future when you decide what infrastructure projects you'll support," Traylor said.""