BLOOMINGDALE - The tax increase in the town of St. Armand's preliminary budget is slightly higher than the state's 2 percent property tax cap, for now.
The amount of the 2013 budget to be raised by taxes would increase 2.8 percent, or $19,422, from $680,524 to $699,946, if the budget drafted by St. Armand Budget Officer Mike Kilroy was adopted without any changes.
Kilroy said Monday he expects the town board will find a way to bring the tax levy increase below the cap before it approves the budget in November. To do so, the board would have to cut roughly $5,000 in spending, he said.
"That won't be too hard to do," Kilroy said. "Overall, the budget is looking OK. They're going to be in good shape."
The preliminary budget includes $1,599,881 in spending, a decrease of 1 percent, or $16,607, compared to this year's $1,616,488 budget.
The town's general fund is up 4 percent, or $23,495, from $595,395 to $618,890. Among the factors responsible is a $15,000 increase in the town's capital outlay, from $135,000 to $150,000, money used to pay for work on town buildings.
There's no additional allocation for bond payments in the proposed budget even though the town is facing two major projects that it will likely have to borrow money for: a new highway garage and upgrades to the town's sewer system. Kilroy said that's because there are still some unknowns about the timeline for both projects.
"If they do build the garage, they may not go out to bid until December or January, and that payment wouldn't come up until the 2014 budget," he said.
The town has been offered a $2 million grant and 30-year interest-free loan from the state Environmental Facilities Corporation for the $4.5 million sewer project, but the town would have to secure short-term financing on its own, then be reimbursed by the state.
By the #s
TAX RATES for town of St. Armand residents vary depending on which part of the town people live in. Here are the proposed rates per $1,000 of assessed property value for each fund based on the preliminary 2013 budget, followed by the current rates.
|-Fire protection, Bloomingdale and SL||$0.72||$0.63|
|-Fire protection, North Elba||$0.53||$0.45|
|-Rockledge water district||$0.36||$0.36|
In the event the sewer project does move forward in 2013, Kilroy has budgeted an additional $15,000 in legal fees and contingency in the sewer district fund, paid in separate fees by residents of that district.
Among other expenses, the fire protection budget for town residents who live outside the village of Saranac Lake would increase $11,455, from $77,945 to $89,400. Most of that would come from an increase in the town's contract with the Saranac Lake Volunteer Rescue Squad.
The townwide highway budget would drop $2,358, from $546,499 to $544,141. The separate highway outside budget shows a $60,000 decrease in "permanent improvements" or road repair projects. Kilroy said that's because the town is returning to the normal amount it budgets for road work, about $130,000 a year, after budgeting an additional $60,000 in this year's budget for repairs to roads damaged in the spring 2011 floods. Roughly $55,000 of that additional $60,000 was paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
As it stands now, the budget includes no salary increases for town officials or employees. Kilroy said that's one thing he planned to discuss in a Monday budget meeting with Supervisor Joyce Morency.
"That's something where I'll feel Joyce out to see what she wants," he said. "She may want to give them 3 percent. It will be up to the board to decide what to do."
Last year, Morency budgeted 5 percent increases for highway workers but no increases for any other town employees. After the non-highway workers complained, the town board approved 3 percent workers for all employees.
Most St. Armand employees don't get health insurance, with the exception of highway department workers. Kilroy said their premiums would increase 11 percent, or about $4,600.
Funding for various youth and senior organizations in the community is largely unchanged in the proposed budget.
Kilroy said he plans to discuss the budget with the town board after its next regular meeting, which takes place at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the St. Armand Town Hall in Bloomingdale.
Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or email@example.com.