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G’town budget meets tax cap, adds new code officer

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GERMANTOWN–Big-ticket items in the town’s 2017 budget are the lines for union contract negotiations, planning, generators, Camp Palatine (the annual children’s summer camp) and fireworks on the Fourth of July.

The Town Board discussed the budget October 25 at a Public Hearing and meeting and approved the budget in a special meeting November 1. The vote was unanimous, Supervisor Joel Craig said on Tuesday, minus Brittany DuFresne, who was absent.

Figures for the code enforcement officer are still not definite, said Mr. Craig, but the board was able to OK the budget with an estimate for that line.

For 2016 the board hired Crawford & Associates for code enforcement. The engineering firm will not continue the contract in 2017, but Jay Trapp, who had been doing the work for Crawford, will now do it independently as a part-time town employee.

The board budgeted $20,000 for union contract positions, based on the Town of Coxsackie’s costs. “But we don’t have a clue as to what the contract provisions will cost,” Mr. Craig said October 25. “A number of items in the union’s proposal could be quite expensive for the town. We’ll look at taking the money out of the fund balance once we know.”

The fund balance currently stands at $140,230. No town employees will receive a salary increase until the union contract is settled. “Then we’ll look at salary increases,” said Mr. Craig.

Another large line item is generators. “Last summer several severe storms knocked out power,” said Mr. Craig. Three town buildings are designated as official emergency shelters: the highway garage, a “safe shelter” for children in a school emergency ($10,000 budgeted for a gas generator with a propane tank); the town hall/town court, where the board looks to get $13,000 for a generator through a state Justice Court Assistance Program (JCAP) grant; and the Kellner Community Activities Building.

The Comprehensive Plan Review Committee and the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program Committee will require some expense—at least $20,000 in matching funds for planning. “We should complete those two projects in 2017,” said Mr. Craig.

Camp Palatine and the Fourth of July fireworks were under-budgeted in 2016 in both expenses and revenue, so those figures were adjusted.

Despite these new appropriations, the total budget increase is $19,807, and the 2017 budget requires less of the fund balance than was used in 2016. “We have a lot of long-term issues coming up that will cost the town money, so we had to be frugal in other lines,” said the supervisor.

The town’s tax cap for 2017 is 0.6%, which allowed an increase in the tax levy of just under $4,000, said Mr. Craig, and Germantown managed to stay within that limit.

Total appropriations for the town are $1,229,925. Estimated revenues are $532,695 and use of the unexpended balance is estimated at $140,230, leaving the amount to be raised by taxes at $557,000. Budget worksheets and the 2017 summary are on the town website, germantownny.org.

In other business:

• The annual Veterans Day ceremony is Friday, November 11 at 10 a.m. at the memorial in Palatine Park

• The Comprehensive Plan Review Committee plans a visioning session on Saturday, November 19 from 10 a.m. to noon in the Kellner Community Activities Building on Palatine Park Road

• The annual community Thanksgiving Dinner takes place Thursday, November 24, organized by Donna Diehl. Volunteers are always welcome. For information call Ms. Diehl, 518 537-6405.

• The Board of Assessment Review still has one vacancy for a paid position, and the town still needs a volunteer representative on the Columbia County office of Aging Advisory Committee. Those interested should contact town clerk Joyce Vale

• The Comprehensive Plan Review Committee and the LWRP Committee have set future meetings, which are open to the public and noted in the calendar on the town’s website.

The next town board meeting is Tuesday, November 22 at 7 p.m.

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