Tax rates down in mayor’s budget
Noble proposes new parking meters, shift to user fees in $41.45M plan
KINGSTON >> Mayor Steve Noble on Monday proposed a $41.45 million budget for 2017 that leaves the property tax levy unchanged from the current year. But city tax rates, both residential and commercial, are projected to drop slightly, thanks in part to an increase in the city’s overall assessed value.
The spending plan, Noble’s first since he took office in January, proposes a $17.65 million property tax levy that is $185,313 below the state tax cap for Kingston. Overall spending is up $503,589, or 1.23 percent, under the proposal.
“In 2017 we are facing a variety of challenges,” Noble said at a news conference at City Hall late Monday afternoon. “One of them ... is our rising health care insurance, which this year alone our anticipated increase exceeds $700,000.”
Employee benefits are pro-
jected to cost $3.17 million, an increase of $276,124, or 9.56 percent.
The largest portion of the budget, $20.09 million for public safety, is down $196,380, or 0.97 percent, from the current year’s modified budget.
Other impacts on the budget are expected to include growing infrastructure needs, high demand for services, expired union contracts, stagnant state aid, and limited growth in the tax base, the mayor said.
Officials said an increase in city property assessments has allowed a reduction in city tax rates per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The homestead, or residential, tax rate is proposed at $1.10 per $1,000, a decrease of 6 cents, or 0.58 percent; the non-homestead, or commercial, rate is proposed at $18.13, a decrease of 18 cents, or 0.98 percent. Those rates do not include the county tax rate.
“Progress has been made to equalize homestead and non-home tax rate to relieve the burden on commercial properties while reducing tax rates for property owners,” Noble said.
Salaries under the budget will be unchanged for the mayor at $60,000; seven aldermen at $8,000
each; the Common Council majority and minority leaders at $8,500 each; and alderman-at-large at $10,000.
Among the steepest increases in discretionary spending will be installation of parking meters at $415,000, an increase of $155,000, or 59.62 percent.
“A request for proposals has been released for the purchase and installation of kiosks a various parking lots throughout the city as well as the activation of new payment options for on-street parking,” Noble said.
“Users of our parking lots will be able to easily pay by cash or credit card at kiosks, with shortterm and discounted longterm options available,” he said.
“Our on-street meters will also soon allow payment by smartphone. Users will be able to receive alerts when their time is running out and will be able to add additional time through an easy to use app on their phones.”
Noble said his budget looks toward a “fee schedule that further supports a shift toward userbased revenues, which allow those users to enjoy specialized services without a burden on the general taxpayer. These fees include private use of our parks and buildings, parking, planning fees and permits, and other independently used services.”