COLONIE — Town Supervisor Paula Mahan said the preliminary 2017 budget is tightly controlled, which is not unusual.
A strict, line-by-line budget was one of the new practices Mahan’s administration established upon taking office, and was intended to bring a firm grip of stability to the town’s budgeting process, which, according to her, had not been as detailed under past administrations.
“You have to live within your means,” Mahan said. “We’re pretty structured.”
The proposed budget spends $88, 992, 272, which is a 1.9 percent increase over this year. That increase, which totals, about $1.6 million, covers the increased costs of operations and mandated payments to the New York State Retirement System, according to the budget.
It contains a total net tax rate increase of 4.6 cents per thousand of assessed taxable value, which means the net tax increase for a home of median value is about $6.50 for the upcoming year.
The budget narrative makes mention of its intent to focus efforts on public safety and the town’s Department of Public Works to improve and maintain aging infrastructure.
In total, the proposed budget lists general town wide operating funds at $48,715,191. The police department is slated to receive $40,000 for a STOP DWI grant. Police administration will receive about $1.5 million, the department will receive $6.7 million and $98,790 will go to police training. EMS will get $4.1 million.
Cultural centers and community gathering spaces in town are highly funded as well, with The Crossings projected to get $347,700 for 2017, and Pruyn House slated to get $149,864.
The Town of Colonie Senior Resources Department will receive $733,040, part of an ongoing effort to provide a higher quality of life for seniors around town. Part of that total, about$270,000, will go to Colonie Senior Service Centers to provide programs and services to seniors around town.Aside from setting its sights on bringing in more affordable housing for seniors, Colonie Memorial Town Hall recently implemented a brand new ramp outside the building with new handicap parking spaces that make travel and movement into the building easier.
As far as town services and infrastructure go, drainage will get $345,136, and stormwater management will get $269,393. Snow removal is slated to receive much more, at $971,000.
In May, memos are sent out to all the departments warning them that their proposed budgets are due in the first week of June. After that, the town works to pull together all the requests from all the departments for about six months to put together what ends up being the comprehensive town budget. However, even after it’s passage, the budget may be altered by the Town Board via budget resolutions, and the Comptroller’s Office can make budget neutral transfers as well.
Mahan pointed out that a stable and consistent budget also allows the town to more effectively plan for its capital budget, which deals with longer-term infrastructure projects and endeavors. Included are longer-term improvement projects at the library and The Crossings.
Her office pointed out that since the town is required to meet the 2 percent tax cap, and because tax rates in the town are already so low, the public doesn’t usually find large issues with proposed budgets.
As is typical of Mahan’s administration, while there isn’t anything unexpected in this budget, one of the things the town focused on while planning was making sure emergency medical services—one of the departments the town consistently describes as very strong—was well equipped and prepared. Mahan also said town employment was something she and her office considered in the budgeting process.
“Keeping people employed … that’s critical,” she said. In fact, her office said, the police department is at its highest number is 25 years, at 112 officers.
The budget is projected to be finalized in November. The complete 2017 preliminary budget can be found at www.colonie.org/departments/comptroller.