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Towns deal with tax cap

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

— DelGallo’s proposed $20.1 million 2012 budget for Rotterdam holds an increase of $835,000 over the 2011 modified budget and a tax levy increase of 2.83 percent, which does fall within the tax cap after allowed adjustments. The town’s fund balance usage is set for a drastic decline with about $800,000 set for 2012, a 50 percent reduction from 2011.

Ending the reliance on fund balance usage was important, DelGallo said, because the town would run it dry shortly if it continued previous allocations. Town Comptroller Anthony Tangarone said he hopes the fund balance at the end of 2011 totals $2.3 million, but DelGallo said the town would be “lucky” if it stays above $2 million.

The budget also doesn’t take into account any possible costs from flooding damage sustained during Tropical Storms Irene and Lee. Initial town official estimates are around $300,000 for the blow town funds will receive.

Department head requests for the 2012 budget totaled nearly $22 million, but the tentative budget holds almost $800,000 in cuts.

Opening Rotterdam’s Tentative 2012 Budget yielded a surprise on the first two lines for board members. DelGallo had removed all four board member salaries for a total savings of $41,500.

DelGallo transferred his supervisor salary of $13,000 to town projects in 2010 and 2011 — senior center kitchen repairs and a new veteran memorial — but this time he went after the entire board’s compensation. No board members voiced any opinions on this move, but Diane Marco, Democrat candidate for town clerk, shared her bafflement.

“The entire Town Board will have a zero salary in your budget?” Marco asked DelGallo. “What an embarrassment.”

His justification for cutting the board’s salary was to keep one town employee position.

“There ain’t nobody up here that needs money,” DelGallo responded. “It’s easier to keep one man working than it is to give somebody a little bit of money.”

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RichardReevesEllington 2 years, 11 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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