Board OKs town budget, but tax levy uncertain
The Shandaken Town Board has approved the town’s 2017 budget, but the size of the property tax levy increase will remain uncertain until the result of last week’s vote on giving more money to the Phoenicia Library is certified.
The proposition — to increase the town’s annual contribution to the library by 72 percent, from $94,000 to $162,000 — appears to have been rejected by voters. But with the tally being close (634 opposed to 613 in favor), yet-to-be-counted absentee ballots could change the result.
The town budget, as it stands, raised the property tax levy by 6.9 percent over the 2016 level. If the library measure is approved, the hike would be 8.7 percent.
The budget was approved at a sparsely attended Town Board meeting on Monday, though the board had until Nov. 21 to act.
In passing the budget, the board included language stating that, should the library proposition pass, the higher tax levy would take effect automatically.
A public hearing held prior to the board’s vote drew little input.
Town resident and Catskill Heritage Alliance Chairwoman Kathy Nolan said at the hearing that this is “a bad year” for event the smaller proposed tax increase in a town where there are many senior citizens and people on fixed incomes.
Nolan also questioned the budget’s pay raises for the town supervisor, clerk, justices, highway superintendent and tax assessors. The supervisor is getting a 9 percent raise; the other raises are 4.6 percent or less.
Town Supervisor Robert Stanley, defending his own raise, said his salary is well below what’s paid to the supervisors in the nearby towns of Olive and Woodstock.
First-year Town Board member Gael Alba came to Stanley’s defense, saying she had no idea how much work it was to run the town until she took office.
“I think it’s highly deserved,” she said. “I see it from a different point of view this year.”