Tax rates down in mayor’s bud­get

No­ble pro­poses new park­ing me­ters, shift to user fees in $41.45M plan

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­

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.”

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