Board OKs town bud­get, but tax levy un­cer­tain

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Jay Bra­man Jr. news@free­manon­line.com

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.”

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