Nisky’ Town Board clashes over 2012 budget

Recreation and leaf pickup fees protested by councilman

— Niskayuna’s 2012 budget plans have moved steadily along with no changes, but after a recent public hearing it became clear not all town leaders are on the same page.

The Niskayuna Town Board held a hearing on the 2012 Preliminary Budget on Thursday, Nov. 10. The budget proposal is unchanged from the previously proposed tentative budget, totaling nearly $13.25 million, which is a roughly $240,000 increase from 2011’s spending. The board is set to vote on the budget during its Thursday, Nov. 17, meeting.

The town isn’t slated to use any money from its fund balance or reserves in next year’s budget. The town tax rate for residents would be a 2.4 percent increase, with commercial property owners taking a 5 percent increase.

Four full-time positions are slated to be eliminated through attrition — one from the police department, two parks department employees and one highway employee. Three positions are planned to have reduced hours, too.

Supervisor Joe Landry said the town would also be increasing fees, which affects recreation programs and camps among other services, along with starting to charge a fee for the leaf pickup program. Departmental income in the 2012 budget is increasing by $149,100, which mostly consists of recreation program fees and the leaf program. $150,000 in revenue is expected from leaf pick-up fees.

The Youth Recreation Programs budget is increasing by $67,162 in 2012 compared to the 2011 adopted budget, for a total of $192,900.

Councilwoman Julie McDonnell said it may appear the programming budget is growing, but it really isn’t. She said registrations are increasing and revenues are exceeding expenditures for recreation programming and camps. Even with a fee increase she expects registration to continue to grow.

“I don’t want to over raise fees, but our participation grows every year,” McDonnell said. “I think it is just something people expect and they know it is a very good program.”

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