Esslie-Frenia Law June 2023 Leaderboard

Bipartisan county budget trims taxes, spends plenty


HUDSON—Columbia County’s 2022 budget calls for a 2% tax levy cut, despite a 10% increase in appropriations. The budget, which the County Board of Supervisors approved December 8, appropriates $170.4 million, of which 25.6% is to be covered by the tax levy of $43.7 million.

The 2021 budget appropriated $155.5 million, of which 28.6% was to be covered by the tax levy of $44.5 million.

The tax levy cut will allow the tax rate for the average county property to drop 6% (from $5.69 to $5.34 per thousand), County Controller Ron Caponera said by phone December 15. But he cautioned that the tax rate is just one factor in determining what tax a property owner pays. Other factors include assessments and municipal equalization rates.

This table summarizes the Columbia County Budget, by fund, for 2022. Jeanette Wolfberg/The Columbia Paper

One factor allowing the county to reduce the tax levy is the increase in sales tax revenue from $45 million last year to $49 million this year, according to Matt Murell (R-Stockport), chairman of the County Board of Supervisors, in his cover letter to the budget. He was citing figures provided by County Treasurer PJ Keeler.

Another factor allowing the county to reduce the tax levy has been the high stock market, Mr. Caponera said last week. The county is paying less into the state pension fund for its employees than previously because the pension fund’s investments are contributing more.

At the same time, the county has finished building a new two-and-a-half-mile sewer line serving Commerce Park and is ready to build a new Office for the Aging (OFA) facility and kitchen in Commerce Park, Mr. Caponera reported.

Completion of the sewer project was the main reason the Sewer District appropriation fell 95%, from $4.2 million in 2021 to $187 thousand in 2022, the lowest since 2016.  On the other hand, the commencement of the OFA project is a main reason the Capital Fund appropriation rose 67%, from $10.3 million in 2021 to $17.2 million in 2022.

Other appropriations increases are in Solid Waste (caused by increased tipping fees to haul garbage) and Machinery (because of resuming some work temporarily reduced last year).

‘Steps we took last year… are partly to thank for the good shape we’re in today.’

Chairman Matt Murell (R-Stockport)

Columbia County Board of Supervisors

“We continue to produce budgets that are in the best interest of all our residents,” said Mr. Murell in his cover letter. “This includes the much-needed services of Mental Healtlh, Social Services, and Public Safety, as well as maintenance of roads and bridges.”

“Steps we took last year… are partly to thank for the good shape we’re in today,” Mr. Murell said.

The chairman thanked Mr. Keeler, Mr. Caponera, Human Resources Director Michaele Williams-Riordon, and Supervisors Ronald Knott (R-Stuyvesant), James Guzzi (R-Livingston), Tistrya Houghtling (D-New Lebanon), Arthur Bassin (D-Ancram), and Richard Scalera (D-Hudson, 5th Ward) for their roles in bringing the budget to fruition.

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