NEW SCOTLAND New Scotland is up against the state tax cap with a proposed 2014 budget totaling almost $7.18 million, while maintaining a substantial fund balance.
Town Supervisor Tom Dolin filed a 2014 Tentative Budget calling for a 1.66 percent property tax levy increase. Expenditures between the town’s four main funds would increase by around $24,500. The proposed budget would drain around $330,000 from fund balances and is projected to leave $2.57 million in reserves, which is still 29 percent of next year’s total budget.
There was little flexibility in crafting next year’s spending plan, according to Dolin.
“Between the 1.66 percent tax cap and the slow recovery in the sales tax, we are kind of squeezed,” Dolin said.
There are no layoffs in the budget, but two positions would be eliminated through attrition. Town retirees would also be switched to a different health insurance plan, yielding savings around $70,000.
Dolin said more funds weren’t tapped from the town’s fund balance this year because he expects coming years will be more challenging.
“We anticipate we are going to have to (use more fund balance) over the next few years unless the economy improves substantially,” Dolin said. “It is our rainy day fund and it’s still raining out.”
Dolin said 2014 might be when the town has to dig deeper into its fund balance. He said previously the town has deferred capital projects and not filled vacancies to help balance its budget.
“Over a five-year period our reserves have actually increased,” he said.
While the tax cap was created to slow the rise of property taxes, it has also acted as a deterrent to keep taxes from growing at all. If the town went with a lower tax levy in 2014, that would affect how much could be raised the following year.
This year, the town budgeted around $375,000 from its fund balance, but its four main funds will actually see $146,000 going into reserve accounts.