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Nisky’s new fees not set in stone

Board passes budget with 3.4 percent tax hike, new revenues would require future laws

— The costs included in Niskayuna’s budget for next year are clear, but exact fee increases have yet to be solidified.

Niskayuna Supervisor Joe Landry’s initial 2012 budget is remaining unchanged after the Town Board approved a nearly $13.3 million spending plan in a Thursday, Nov. 17, special meeting by a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Jonathan McKinney dissenting. Spending is increasing by $235,455 in 2012 compared to 2011, but the town isn’t using any money from its fund balance or reserves. The adopted budget holds a 3.4 percent tax levy increase.

To achieve cost savings, four full-time positions are being eliminated through attrition, which includes one police department employee, two parks department employees and one highway employee. Three positions are planned to have reduced hours, too. Also, fee increases are included in the budget through recreation programs and camps among other services, along with $150,000 in new revenue from a lawn debris pick up fee.

“There are in this budget opportunities for various fee increases, which will end up being local laws,” said Landry. “As far as the lawn and leaf debris, we are looking at coming up with a fee, we don’t know the exact number, and we are going to estimate how many houses will be taking advantage of this user fee.”

After the meeting, Landry said not all fee increases will require local laws, such as those in the recreation programs, but he said the lawn debris fee, transfer station fees and a home alarm system fee tied to the police department would most likely require local laws to be passed. Before adopting a local law, the board is required to hold a public hearing.

“Not every fee is done the same way. You have to look at how the fee is implemented and what are its appropriating authorities,” said Landry.

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