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Rotterdam adopts $21.4M budget

Spending plan to hike taxes 1.4 percent, councilman’s questions cut off

— Rotterdam is staying well within the state tax cap in its newly adopted 2013 budget, which will increase the property tax levy by 1.4 percent while cutting back the use of savings.

The Rotterdam Town Board on Wednesday, Nov. 14, adopted the $21.4 million budget, which is unchanged from the town’s revised preliminary budget. Spending is scheduled to increase by $348,000 next year. Fund balance appropriations were reduced by almost $500,000 when compared to this year’s use, to a total of more than $665,000.

There was a paucity of public comment on the budget at past board meetings, but Councilman Robert Godlewski continued to question the budget process and fund allocations. Godlewski was the only board member to vote against the budget.

Godlewski asked for an updated five-year financial forecast, but town officials previously said it couldn’t be produced until early next year. He also asked for the result of the state Comptroller’s Office’s risk assessment of the town’s finances and wondered how $525,000 in Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements are allocated in the budget.

“Just because we got the money from FEMA doesn’t mean the department heads or supervisor can take that money and allocate it any way that they want,” Godlewski said.

Town Comptroller Jackie Every addressed Godlewski’s questions, but the exchange became contentious when the councilman asked why a contingency account in the general fund was increasing $168,000 to total $218,000. Godlewski said the line item was traditionally set at $100,000, except for last year when it was reduced to $50,000 by the previous administration.

“If you have that many unexpected expenses, then something is not being budgeted right,” Godlewski said.

Every said the allocation reflected the volatility of fuel prices and increased problems surrounding sewer and water. She said the compost facility has been historically underfunded. There are also “a few lines” falling short already in this year’s budget, she said.

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