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Hilltowns Archives —The Altamont Enterprise, October 23, 2008

Knox approves “tame” $2 million budget for 2009

By Zach Simeone

KNOX — The town board unanimously approved a tentative budget for 2009 at last week’s meeting. The budget calls for a tax-rate increase of roughly a nickel per $1,000 of assessed value.

“It’s a pretty tame budget,” said Supervisor Michael Hammond.

Currently, residents pay about $1.73 per $1,000 of assessed value. In 2009, residents will pay close to $1.78 per $1,000.

The $2.02 million budget is about $70,000 higher than the current year’s, of which $498,827 is to be raised by property taxes. Most of the town’s revenues come from the county sales tax.

“One of the bigger things is we’re roughly at the 3-percent increase,” Hammond said of the general and highway funds, “and that’s basically being driven by the fuel costs, negotiated union contracts, and general readjustment of salaries and transfer station for tipping fees.”

Appropriations for the general fund are up nearly $30,000 for next year, from $7            46,384 to $776,849. Only five individual items will go up by more than $1,000 on next year’s budget: total appropriations for elections, up $4,000; total government support, up about $7,400; total public health, up about $8,000; total transportation, up about $2,000; and total interfund transfers, up $11,000.

The highway department’s budget will be up exactly $40,000 next year, from $940,600 to $980,600. The largest increases here are in total general repairs and total snow removal, each up $15,000 for next year.

Town officials will see a 3-percent salary increase in the coming year.

Hammond said that two of the biggest challenges the board faced in piecing together next year’s budget were the rising costs of petroleum products and health insurance. “That was something that we had to be really cognizant of in putting this thing together,” he said.

“The other thing is that we’re trying to budget up for new equipment coming in the highway department,” Hammond said.

Also, the town board recently ratified a new, three-year labor contract with highway department workers.

The contract will increase wages by 50 cents an hour in 2008, by 60 cents an hour in 2009, and by 70 cents an hour in 2010, and will require employees to contribute to the co-payment of their health insurance at the rate of 15 percent in 2008, then 16 percent in 2009, and 17 percent in 2010.

“The men will also be paid a retroactive back to January 1 of this year,” Hammond said.

There are seven full-time workers in the highway department. Beginning rates are $12.86 an hour for laborers, $13.24 an hour for truck drivers, and $13.65 an hour for operators.

Hammond said that the country’s recent financial crisis factored in as well.

“One of our biggest revenue generators is sales tax, and people are now keeping an especially close eye on their spending,” Hammond said. “But, we’re hoping for the best.”

Other business

In other business at its October meeting, the town board:

— Approved a $1,500 payment to Hilltown Senior Citizens. “It’s a donation we’ve been making for quite a few years, once a year,” Hammond said. The donation covers general operating costs;

— Approved a $300 payment to Hilltown Senior Citizens for its meal program;

— Reviewed a solid-waste management plan that’s being offered by the Capital Region Solid Waste Management Partnership (CRSWMP). “We’re a partner with them, along with 11 other communities in Albany County,” said Hammond. This review included a discussion about a local law that regulates recycling, which the CRSWMP is mandating. “We’re in the process of coming up with this law,” Hammond said. “I think they’re shooting for the first of the year on this”;

— Discussed adding a cell tower fee to its schedule, but no action was taken; and

— Offered condolences to the family of the late Walter Oliver, former transfer station attendant in Knox.

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