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Rotterdam tax hike under 2 percent

Supervisor proposes no layoffs, reducing fund reserves usage

— Town officials are seeing costs outpace revenues, but Supervisor Harry Buffardi is holding his budget below the tax cap.

“Our cost increases are well above two percent,” Buffardi said, “particularly when it comes to health insurance and pension costs and other operational costs, such as fuel … are difficult to predict.”

Buffardi unveiled his proposed 2013 budget during the Town Board’s meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 26. It would increase the property tax levy by 1.9 percent and call for $21.5 million in spending, a nearly $319,000 increase compared to this year’s modified budget. Fund balance usage is reduced in the plan by around $548,000, leaving more than $615,000 of reserves being tapped for next year.

Buffardi could not provide the actual tax levy threshold for the town under the state tax cap, but he has no intentions to breach a 2 percent increase. Each 1 percent increase in the town’s budget roughly equals $100,000 in revenue. Municipalities typically can exceed a 2 percent increase after calculating the actual tax cap through the state’s formula for exclusions.

“We use 2 percent as our number,” Buffardi said. “I believe in what Cuomo said, so we took 2 percent … and we set that as our ceiling; not a glass ceiling, but a steel ceiling.”

Calls to Town Comptroller Jackie Every to clarify the town’s tax cap threshold were not returned by press time.

Buffardi’s budget contains no layoffs, but there are no salary increases either as the town prepares to enter negotiations with CSEA and the police union. Buffardi said vacant positions would not be filled.

Buffardi said town services are not diminished in his proposed spending plan.

“Realizing the financial climate that we live in today, I felt it necessary not to reduce services to our residents,” Buffardi said.

Buffardi said all department heads were asked for a minimum of 10 percent in reductions to non-personnel related budget items. Not every department met the requirement, he said.

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