Bethlehem Town Hall. Spotlight file photo
BETHLEHEM — The Town Board approved the town’s proposed 2019 budget during its Nov. 14 meeting.
The 2019 $43.1 million budget is roughly a 3.1 percent, or $1.3 million, increase from 2018’s $41.7 million. Using a home valued at $260,000, town residents will pay on average $8,890.07 in property taxes, $993.91 or 11 percent of which on average is earmarked to pay for town services, such as maintaining parks, roads and sidewalks; providing water service; collecting sewage; and covering the costs of programs available to its senior citizen residents.
The $993.91 amount for 2019 is $15.51 more than 2018’s $978.40. It will be prorated across the General Fund ($227.93), Highway Fund ($444.59), Water Fund ($136.97), Sewer Fund ($101.82), and EMS ($82.60).
The 2019 tax rate is 3.82 percent, which is a 1.58 percent increase from 2018’s 3.76 percent tax rate. The tax levy is $14.5 million, $400,000 more than 2018’s $14.1 million. The tax cap, originally developed in 2012, is at 2 percent in 2019 for the first time since 2013, marking a rise from 2018’s 1.84 percent.
Overall, the final budget was largely similar to the original proposal Town Comptroller Michael Cohen presented to the Town Board on Sept. 26. Both versions end with the same $43.1 million figure although the amounts of certain line items were adjusted so as to not increase or decrease the overall budget. The original and final figures for the wages and overtime expenses and fringe benefits lines are the only amounts that differ between the two versions of the budget.
First, the two Town Justice salaries were amended to compensate for the positions’ requirement of being on-call 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Second, a provision was made to allow a specific part-time employee who works all year long for more than 20 hours a week to receive full-time benefits.
Following the budget’s adoption, Town Supervisor David VanLuven thanked Cohen, chief accountants Cherie Gitto and Theresa Amodeo, and all relevant staff members. “Well done, everyone for putting together this careful, responsible budget,” he said.
The town’s 2019 budget is available for review online at www.townofbethlehem.org/192/2019-Town-Budget.