Towns deal with tax cap

R'dam eyes 13 layoffs in budget; Nisky’ and Glenville propose cuts, no layoffs

— Town supervisors in Schenectady County have submitted their first tentative budgets under the new property tax cap, but the pain isn’t felt equally across town lines.

Rotterdam’s Tentative 2012 Budget proposed by Supervisor Frank DelGallo isn’t easy to swallow with 13 proposed layoffs stretching town employees further. An additional three jobs would also be trimmed through attrition, bringing the total to 16 cut positions. Niskayuna and Glenville aren’t seeking layoffs, but Niskayuna is cutting four full-time positions through attrition and Glenville is similarly cutting three full-time and two part-time positions through attrition.

All three budgets do come in below the state’s 2 percent property tax cap, after allowable cap adjustments for growth factors and state pension rates, but the tax levy increases for each town are above 2 percent. To get around the tax cap, a town board needs to propose a local law to override the constraint, hold a public hearing and then vote at least 3-2 in approval of the override.

Both Glenville and Niskayuna are holding public hearings to override the cap, but Rotterdam has yet to bring the option forward. Requirements for public notice and procedures for adopting a local law pushed the two towns to make sure the option is not lost.

Glenville Supervisor Christopher Koetzle and Niskayuna Supervisor Joe Landry have both stated the public hearing to undo the tax cap is only to keep the choice available.

“I’m going to recommend to the Town Board, just to preserve their rights and allow them that option, … they should also pass a resolution at the Oct. 13 meeting calling for a hearing on a budget override,” said Landry. “It doesn’t say you have to do a budget override … you can head in the direction of the 2 percent tax cap.”

Rotterdam’s bleak budget

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RichardReevesEllington 4 years, 4 months ago

These stories have a common thread: towns do not have the funds to continue all current activities at current levels. The tax cap assures that this shortage of funds will continue. I argue that there are three alternatives to addressing this problem: expand the tax base, reduce spending in all areas that are not contractually or legally required, or reducing the services currently provided.

Historically, the tax base expansion has driven many local communities but the result is often tax breaks for the industries that locale locally and increased infrastructure costs. Without stronger negotiations and oversight, this is a poor choice. The current approach to budget shortages is to try to continue all activities but with fewer funds for each. This leads to slow and underfunded projects causing frustration for all. The third choice of stopping some activities seems beyond the abilities of our political classes.

My position is that the choices should be presented to the citizens of communities with concrete facts that effect each of the choices. Where possible, history should also be provided. Then a meaningful public discourse can be had upfront and not only after the poilicial machinery has decided what to do and open their decisions to the public.

For more information please go to my website www.bethlehemsupervisor.com. I am running for Bethlehem Town Supervisor and my position would drive the discussion of how to cope with current and projected budget funding.

Richard Reeves-Ellington WFP Candidate for Bethlehem Town Supervisor.


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