AT A REGULAR MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF NISKAYUNA, NEW YORK, DULY CALLED AND HELD ON THE 25TH OF OCTOBER, 2005, AT THE TOWN OFFICE BUILDING, ONE NISKAYUNA CIRCLE, NISKAYUNA, NEW YORK, THE FOLLOWING WERE IN ATTENDANCE;
LIZ ORZEL KASPER, COUNCILWOMAN
WILLIAM R. CHAPMAN, COUNCILMAN
RICHARD A. HOLT, COUNCILMAN
DIANE P. O’DONNELL, COUNCILWOMAN
LUKE J. SMITH, SUPERVISOR
Public Hearing No. 1 and 2 – Preliminary & Special District Budget for 2006.
Supervisor Smith presented a summary outline of the 2006 proposed budget and comparison with 2005.
General and Highway spending for 2005 was $11,349,000; $11,742,000 is budgeted for 200- an increase of $393,000 and an approximate 3-1/2% increase in spending. Water & Sewer is increased by $158,000 or 3.1%, for a total net increase of 3.36% in appropriation. The budget shows a net increase of $552,000.
Things that are driving the increases are similar to prior years with the most significant being contractual salary increases of $278,000 which reflects an approximate 3% raise for all Town employees. We are also in the final stages of finalizing two employee contracts, Police & Highway.
Health and Dental Insurance costs rose 11% and 5% respectively for an approximate total of $122,000 increase in the cost of health benefits for employees. The 11% comes from the HMO’s that provide health insurance. The Town is self insured for dental which has turned out to have been beneficial and has worked out so far in keeping our costs down to 5% increase where the HMO’s have not been able to do that. Insurance costs are climbing steadily and at the rate they are increasing every six years we will double our insurance costs for employees. The Town continues to cut employee benefits with increases in co-pays (which saved the Town $90,000 on our premium) and the Town was still able to save $40,000 even after reimbursing part of the co-pay. Premiums rates continue to climb and we
are currently paying $1.2 million on our insurance premiums.
Highway Department. We are adding two additional Highway employees effective late spring which increased the budget by $66,500. They are being added to concentrate specifically on our drainage systems as far as maintenance, repairs, and perhaps replacement as became more apparent during our summer record storms this year. A few weeks ago we had about 4” of rain in a 24 hour period and although he expected it might create many problems, there was little flooding. It seems for this type of rain, where it spread out over a longer period of time (even though it was substantial) appears the drainage system is handling this type of water. The storms of 3” of water in one hour that becomes very difficult and the Town may not be able to build a drainage system
that can ever handle this type of downpour. We will continue to upgrade and maintain our system so we can avoid some of the flooding we have seen in the past.
The Water & Sewer Department will also gain an additional employee for work that we started doing in the last two years dealing with an our aging infrastructure and the water and sewer systems in Town. We have issues with inflow and infiltration that are taxing our Waste Water Treatment Plant and we have to begin to identify where these problems are coming from and fix the system.
Retirement costs will increase by $42,000 over last year which translates into about a 1% increase in the tax rate.
Appropriations for the storm drainage work will increase to $20,000, up from a previous budget of $5,000. We anticipate there may be some larger projects that the Town might have to borrow for. This is not in the budget and there is no fiscal impact if we borrow next year since the first fiscal impact will be the following year when we have to make our first payment.
Water & Sewer Department rates in Sewer District 1 (located in Old Niskayuna, and which flow directly to the City of Schenectady Wastewater Treatment Plant), on average have increased 3.84% (an increase of about $92). Sewer District 6 (that the Town maintains exclusively), has increased on average 2.82% over a ten year period to $218.
Debt. The Town has been on an aggressive schedule of paying down debt are currently at $6.6 million in debt. We anticipate bonding a number of projects such as the Water & Sewer Garage which has been in ill repair for several years. We hope to move the garage, purchasing some land and building a new building which will be bonded. Some infrastructure and drainage projects may need to be bonded of about $1 million. The Town’s legal debt limitation is just under $90 million; therefore, at about 6% of our legal indebtedness, the Town is not awash in debt. We are on an aggressive schedule and we try to do any borrowing in five year blocks so they are paid off quickly to keep the debt down.
Example of breakdown of taxes for home assessed at $135,000; total taxes of $440:
Department % Amount
Highway Department 35% $154
Administration 7% $ 30
Police 34% $149
Public Works 15% $ 66
Parks & Recreation 10% $ 44
93% of tax dollars go to essential services.
A home assessed at $135,000 has a tax bill this year of $440.00.
Lorene Zabin, 2455 Brookshire Drive, said overall it is a wonderful budget and she thinks they have tried to curb costs. She felt the Highway Department has an extraordinary expense in health benefits. She was disappointed in the increase in expense for Sewer District 6 and for water.
She thought it was unrealistic to continue to base the example of showing the effect of the budget on a home assessed at $135,000 since this not the average assessment any longer. Supervisor Smith realized this was not the average assessment but was an example which he started using years ago.
Ms. Zabin was also informed that the new building near the Town pool is a concession & supply stand being built by Pop Warner that they will maintain.
A number of sports clubs in Town put a lot of sweat equity into our parks such as baseball, girl’s softball, soccer clubs, Pop Warner, and lacrosse. They have been very willing to work with the Town to upgrade the parks which benefits us all.
Supervisor Smith complimented the Comptroller, Paul Sebesta, on the many hours of hard work he always puts into preparing the Town budget.
TOWN CLERK’S BUSINESS
The minutes of the meeting of September 27 and October 11, 2005 were approved as presented.
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR
Sally Lester, Troy Road, inquired if the Town knows what is going on with the Ingersoll Home on State Street. She is very concerned that this historic building will be sold and torn down. Supervisor Smith stated that at this point it is preliminary that the home is planning to move to Consaul Road at the back end of the Mohawk Commons road. The new facility will be slightly larger than the current capacity. A developer is looking to purchase or has purchased, probably with a contingency for approvals to build. There has been discussion of a Walgreen’s, but he has seen nothing in writing. If this land is developed, there will be a connection from Mohawk Commons straight through to State Street with a four way light.
Councilwoman Kasper stated that the Town cannot do anything about tearing down the Home unless it was designated a historical building.
The following resolutions were approved with a vote of five ayes, unless otherwise noted.
Resolution 2005-254 reappoints Frank Mogavero, 135 Denise Drive, to membership on the Board of Assessment Review for a term to expire September 30, 2010.
Resolution 2005- 255 authorizes the Supervisor to extend a Memorandum of Understanding with the Town’s unions and any employee not covered by a collective bargaining agreement, outlining the benefits to be provided to employees who have been activated in connection with the events of September 11.
Resolution 2005-256 authorizes fixing the amount of forty eight and one-half cents based on the IRS personal car mileage reimbursement rates, as the mileage allowance for each mile necessarily traveled by each authorized Town Official using his/her own automobile while conducting Town business, effective immediately.
There being no further business to come before the Town Board, Supervisor Smith declared the meeting adjourned.
Helen F. Kopke, Town Clerk