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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 16, 2009

Taxes to go up 17%
Altamont adopts $1.1M budget

By Philippa Stasiuk

ALTAMONT — Although Altamont’s budget is $54,000 less than last year, property taxes will increase by 17 percent in 2009 to balance conservative estimates on revenues from county sales taxes.

At its April 1 meeting, the village board unanimously passed a $1.1 million preliminary budget for next year with an estimated tax rate of $2.70 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Catherine Hasbrouke, the village treasurer and budget officer said, “I get the total assessment figures from the town of Guilderland since they do our assessments for us. So, if a village residence has an assessed value of $175,000, their tax bill will be the $2.6974 times 175, equaling $472.05.”

Village property taxes will jump to $272,000, which is a $40,000 increase from last year’s property tax revenues. Mayor James Gaughan said that, although 17 percent may seem high, “in real dollars that’s not a lot for our budget.” Gaughan cited the extraordinary circumstances of the economy as the reason for the increase and reminded The Enterprise that his four-year administration had not raised taxes before.

Property tax revenues for Altamont will fund 24 percent of the 2009 budget, a 4-percent increase from 2008. Sewer and water rates will remain the same.

“We fought valiantly to keep the taxes down and it’s not something we decided without much thought and torture, but we feel it is necessary,” said Gaughan. “Our main source of revenue comes from sales taxes, and it’s down.”

Half of Altamont’s yearly revenues come from the Albany County sales tax. The county collects the sales tax and redistributes it to municipalities based on population. Gaughan said that the village had received the first quarter’s revenues for 2009 and they were down 8 percent from the previous year. 

“In calculating the expected county sales tax revenues, Catherine always underestimates low to act as a buffer. We’re being careful and working on the assumption that the entire year will be down 10 percent,” said Gaughan.

Although Gaughan mentioned a potential freeze on the cost-of-living increase for village employees while campaigning for re-election, only the salaries of elected officials were frozen. Gaughan said the 3-percent salary increase for village employees amounts to  $14,000 in village expenditures. He defended the increase, citing the need to “support the staff who have to make do with less.”

The police department budget will increase next year by $1,600 to $131,000. Police spending had been a source of much debate between incumbent Mayor Gaughan and his challenger Harvey Vlahos, who wanted to cut back on part-time officers. Next year’s budget increase is for the 3-percent cost-of-living bump.

The parks and recreation department will be feeling a large squeeze next year, with the budget dropping almost $11,000 from about $96,000 to $85,000. Part of the drop is comprised of a smaller amount allotted for equipment expenditure, and part is comprised of eliminating the position of gate attendant at Bozenkill Park. An amount of $3,000 will be set aside next year for the public works superintendent in order to seal the park’s parking lot and to re-top the tennis courts.

Fees set

The board approved by unanimous vote the following fees:

— $10 for non-resident parking, a $5 increase;

— $50 for a non-resident parking seasonal pass, a $10 increase;

— $40 for an individual seasonal swim pass, a $5 increase;

— $100 for a family seasonal swim pass, no change;

— $2 for those 6 and older to swim, no change;

— $40 for the Bozenkill Summer Recreation Program, a $5 increase;

— $25 for swim lessons, a $5 increase;

— $40 for water aerobics, a $5 increase;

— $125 to rent the pavilion, a $25 increase; and

— $225 to rent the pavilion with parking, a $25 increase.

Those 62 and older swim for free.

Other business

In other business, at its April 7 meeting, the village board:

—Installed the following village officials, all of whom were re-elected on March 18: Mayor James Gaughan, Trustee Kerry Dineen, Trustee Dean Whalen, and Justice Neil Taber;

—Heard from Gaughan that, for the second year in a row, Altamont had applied for and not received a federal grant through the Transportation Enhancement Program for money that would be used to finish construction on the Altamont Free Library. Gaughan said that Senator Neil Breslin is lobbying on the village’s behalf and has written a letter to Governor David Paterson, requesting further information on how projects were selected and whether there are other funding wells to be tapped to help subsidize the library’s completion;

   — Voted unanimously to enter into a one-year contract, beginning on April 1, with Metro Media for video taping services for the village board meetings.  The cost is $175 per meeting;

— Voted unanimously for the village and the village fire department to participate in the Annual Memorial Day Parade on May 17 at 2 p.m. The parade will assemble at the Park Street entrance of the fairgrounds at 1 p.m.;

— Voted unanimously to approve a request of the Altamont PTA to hold an annual garage sale along the streets of Altamont and Orsini Park on Saturday, May 2, from 9 a.m. to 4 pm.;

—Approved a request by the Altamont Free Library to hold the following four events: a chicken barbecue and concert in Orsini Park on June 19 from 3 to 7:30 p.m.; 77th New York Regimental Balladeers concert, a tribute to Abraham Lincoln on the anniversary of his 200th birthday, in Village Community Room on July 14 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.; Eric Marczak and Dawn Standing Woman, well-known flutist and Native American storyteller, in Orsini Park on July 28 from 6 to 9 p.m.; and a Hilltown Ramblers concert in Orsini Park on Aug. 4 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. The request includes the use of the Village Community Room in case of rain.  If food is served, a $50 fee will apply;

 —Unanimously approved issuing a proclamation to recognize and show appreciation to Village Historian Alice Begley, who is retiring from the part-time post to travel more and spend time with her extensive family. She will continue to be the town historian for Guilderland, which includes Altamont as its subject matter; and

—Approved a request by fire department Chief Paul Miller, to attend the 2009 Fire Chiefs’ Show in Harrisburg, Pa. from May 14 to17.

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