Let­ters Sauger­ties res­i­dents should be concerned about bud­get

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION -

Dear Ed­i­tor, I am one of a hand­ful of res­i­dents who were present when town Su­per­vi­sor Greg Helsmoor­tel was given unan­i­mous sup­port from our town coun­cil mem­bers to ex­ceed the 2 per­cent prop­erty tax cap for 2017. I’m cer­tain many more res­i­dents are concerned than were able to at­tend the pub­lic hear­ings.

I wish to share the fol­low­ing bud­get ob­ser­va­tions.

Pro­posed gen­eral fund ex­pen­di­tures of $8,694,399 in­clude $6,821,899 raised by prop­erty taxes, an in­crease of 5.25 per­cent over 2016, but there are a few cat­e­gories that are stand­out contributors to this in­crease.

Em­ployee hos­pi­tal/med­i­cal/ dental ac­counts for 12.6 per­cent ($1,099,256) of the bud­get, up 23.4 per­cent from the cur­rent 2016 bud­get of $890,745. (My pri­vate sec­tor em­ployer has been in­creas­ing my re­quired in­sur­ance pre­mium as costs rise: now I pay about 37 per­cent of the pre­mium!)

Po­lice ex­pen­di­tures ac­count for 28.5 per­cent of the to­tal pro­posed 2017 bud­get at $2,478,438, up 5.32 per­cent ($125,270) over 2016 bud­get of $2,353,168.

The per­son­nel por­tion of the po­lice bud­get is $2,129,138, which is 85.9 per­cent of the to­tal po­lice bud­get, an in­crease of 7.09 per­cent for per­son­nel ($141,045) from 2016 bud­get of $1,988,093 (Mind you, the new con­tract agree­ment re­cently reached with the po­lice has a wage in­crease of 2.01 per­cent).

The po­lice per­son­nel bud­get in­cludes a 5.6 per­cent raise for its depart­ment head to $86,381 (from $81,800). To chief’s credit, the non-per­son­nel 14.1 per­cent ($349,300) con­tri­bu­tion to the pro­posed bud­get de­creased 4.32 per­cent ($15,775) from 2016 bud­get of $365,075. Of note, over­time bud­get of $225,000 is more than 9 per­cent of the to­tal pro­posed po­lice bud­get (10.56 per­cent of the per­son­nel bud­get), up 9.7 per­cent from 2016.

Is this re­ally the “bare bones” bud­get? What is the ex­pla­na­tion for the amount of over­time ex­pen­di­tures? Is there a plan to mit­i­gate this ex­pense?

I can ap­pre­ci­ate that some of the to­tal bud­get ex­penses are man­dated by con­tracts or leg­isla­tive en­ti­ties.

I also ap­pre­ci­ate some bud­get en­ti­ties were able to cost­con­tain them­selves by bal­anc­ing costs with rev­enues.

How­ever, most of us are deal­ing with hav­ing to make tough choices and tight­en­ing the belt. There needs to be a stronger sense of fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity by our elected of­fi­cials. Hir­ing freezes, wage freezes for non-bar­gain­ing per­son­nel, aus­ter­ity mea­sures, clamp­ing down on over­time ex­pen­di­tures in all de­part­ments, more ben­e­fit cost-shar­ing and de­crease in non-es­sen­tial spend­ing could help trim $300,000 and keep us close to the 2 per­cent tax cap.

I say let Sauger­ties grow grace­fully and within its means, not grow reck­lessly. Michelle Numssen


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