By Kellen M. Quigley
The Concord Town Board last week approved a $4,399,767.31 budget for the 2019 fiscal year that includes a 4 percent tax levy, which exceeded the state tax cap.
Before passing the budget, the board approved Local Law 2 for 2018 to OK going over the town’s tax cap by roughly 2 percent. The amount to be raised by taxes is $1,900,557.69.
“It’s not something we take lightly, it’s not something that we’ve ever done before, but we find ourselves in a situation where our reserve funds are in short supply to reduce the tax rate,” said Town Supervisor Clyde Drake. “I think this is a responsible budget.”
The appropriations in the budget, or what the town plans on spending, had been reduced by $80,000, he said. Drake said that 4 percent for a property valued at $100,000 would equal $16.46 per year.
“The reason the taxes are going up is because we don’t have enough unassigned fund balance left from prior years to throw at the tax rate and get it down,” he said.
A major factor in deciding to go over the tax cap was preparing for the possibility that the town of Sardinia would not be part of the Springville Control Center protection contract with the village of Springville.
If that were to happen, the other municipalities could have to pay what Sardinia would have in 2019, which is about $20,000, said town councilman Philip Drozd.
“That extra money is over and above everything else,” he said. “If that wasn’t in there, that $20,000, you could necessarily say the tax increase would be 2 percent or so. It’s a necessary evil that the town is forced to pay.”
Because $20,000 is about 1.75 percent of the budget, Drake said the town would have only had a quarter of a percent to work with the cover the rest of the expected increases.
“The oil index is going up, diesel fuel is sky high, there’s been an increase in the salt contracts,” he said.
Councilman William Snyder III said the dilemma the board faced is how would the town continue providing that public safety service without staying with the Control Center. He said it’d likely cost more than the extra $20,000 to go with another protection provider.
“The good news is last time we talked, we thought it was going to be $40,000,” Drake added. He said after talking with the Springville mayor and administrator, they said they think it would be closer to $20,000.
Drake said the town received some pushback when they first considered having a 6 percent tax levy, but the board members found areas of the budget that they could reduce to get down to 4 percent.
Additionally, the town put $20,000 into a building reserve fund for some older buildings that will need repair in the upcoming year.
“We don’t want to go out and have to issue a bond for any repairs, so if we put a little away each year, then maybe it will avoid that,” Drake added.
Snyder said he thinks putting the budget together is one of the most important things the board does each year and a significant reason why the members are voted into their positions.
“I do support this budget. I think it’s a very responsible budget,” he said.
“I think it was a really tough decision for everybody to come up with what we did, but it’s a very good budget,” added councilman Kenneth Zittel.