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Hilltowns Archives —The Altamont Enterprise, November 20, 2008

Rensselaerville 2009 budget

By Zach Simeone

RENSSELAERVILLE — As of Monday night’s town board meeting, Rensselaerville’s preliminary budget for 2009, now at $2.35 million, is in its “final stages.”

“We’re comparing figures with one of the council members,” said Town Clerk Kathy Hallenbeck yesterday. “We want to make sure everything is correct.”

The town board has considered several different budget proposals over the past month as residents, sometimes in heated exchanges, pointed out flaws and inconsistencies.

According to the draft presented at Monday’s meeting, about $1.6 million is to be raised by taxes, with a 28-percent tax increase to nearly $11 per $1,000 of assessed value for the general fund and highway department. There are additional taxes for residents of the fire, lighting, water, and sewer districts.

There will be no raises for town employees. After a heated discussion between board and audience members, the board agreed Monday to leave current salaries for town officials unchanged.

Supervisor Jost Nickelsberg announced a consensus among the board to eliminate raises for the coming year, though Councilwoman Sherri Pine had repeatedly voiced her disagreement. She also said that, had there been a vote on raises, she would abstain because her husband is a town assessor.

The $2.35 million budget proposal is about $117,000 higher than this year’s spending plan. Revenues for next year total $685,561, down by $145,122 from this year.

Appropriations for the general fund are up marginally to $948,119. Spending for the highway department is up to about $1.1 million.

Monday night, the town board members went through this latest draft line by line, making cuts as they saw fit, and audience members made suggestions throughout.

As of yesterday, officials at Town Hall were still piecing together the spending plan that, according to state law, must be completed and approved by today. If the Nov. 20 deadline is not met, the most recent draft is automatically adopted.

Since the first version of the budget was printed for public review on Oct. 22, at least three more versions have been printed, the last of which was supplied to attendees of Monday’s final budget meeting.

Repeated public hearings have been held since the discovery of several errors throughout the first two versions of the budget, printed within hours of each other, and mistakes have been present in all subsequent versions, including the one presented at this week’s meeting.

“The supervisor didn’t have all the numbers that we needed to complete the budget,” Councilman Gary Chase said last week. “The numbers were plugged into two different computers, and one was supposed to be checking another. But they were using two different programs, and they came up with different numbers,” he said.

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