Budget up and down

Property tax hikes offset by reductions elsewhere in budget

— The Town of Colonie has before it a 2013 budget that would hike taxes in some areas by as much as 5 percent, but lower them in others to keep the tax rate increase more modest.

The proposed $82 million budget is 0.88 percent larger than this year’s spending plan, and according to town officials when taken as a whole, the overall tax rate would increase by 12 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value to about $3.13. The average homeowner would see a tax increase of $13.42 next year. Town Board members received the proposed budget on Thursday, Sept. 27.

The amount of property taxes levied through the town’s general fund would increase by nearly $850,000 under the 2013 budget proposed, a roughly 5 percent hike — or a tax rate increase of 16 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. Town officials argued that is offset by property tax reductions in other areas, such as the election tax and Latham Water District, that are not included in the general fund.

“We’re within the 2 percent tax cap,” Colonie Supervisor Paula Mahan said. “The overall impact on the homeowner is a 2 percent increase.”

Nowhere in the preliminary budget is a combined property tax levy outlined.

With 510 full-time employees in the town, Colonie will be paying more than $710,000 more for employee health care and mandated payments to the sate retirement system. A few employees have retired or resigned this year.

“We’ve tried very, very hard to keep a conservative budget and approach. Basically that increase covers majority of health care and mandate of pensions,” Mahan said. “We just keep working with our departments to keep shaving the budget … the benefit is to the taxpayers to keep taxes low.”

The upcoming year is also the first year since 2005 the town has a positive fund balance. The nearly $725,000 surplus chiefly includes money in the town’s general fund and a community development fund.

“I think 12 cents per thousand within the 2 percent tax cap is very fair under the circumstances that we’ve had, I think we’ve done extremely well. We’re very, very cautious, our approach is very fiscally conservative. That’s the way it has to be to make things work,” Mahan said.

A presentation and public hearing on the proposed spending plan will be held at Town Hall at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8. The board can vote to adopt a budget at that meeting or at the following meeting, Thursday, Nov. 15.

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