Budgets unveiled by local townships

By Julia Green
Local towns have submitted preliminary budgets for the coming year, and public hearings will be held next week in Andes, Middletown and Roxbury to discuss the budgets and hear feedback from members of the public.

Andes
Despite significant cost increases in several areas, the Andes Town Board said it worked to decrease the overall general and highway budgets. Andes has seen significant drops in mortgage tax and interest earning revenues, and increases in several expenditure areas, including union contract raises, health insurance costs and retirement costs.
Due to increased revenues and cost increases, there will be a projected increase in the amount raised by taxes of approximately 4.6 percent.
As of October 20, the preliminary budget adopted by the Andes Town Board shows that the town anticipates drawing $520,531 of the total $666,381 in the general fund through property taxes. That figure represents an increase of $83,765 over last year’s budget.
As far as the highway budget is concerned, the preliminary town budget shows $910,000 in total highway appropriations, minus $223,500 in estimated revenues and $87,500 in unexpended balance for a total $599,000 to be raised by tax.
There will be a public hearing regarding the preliminary budget for the Town of Andes at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 4 at the town hall.

Middletown
The Middletown Town Board adopted a preliminary budget at its October meeting that represents a tax levy increase of $94,009, or 4.1 percent, over last year. While the total spending plan is down $82,000 from last year, decreasing revenues resulted in hits to the budget, including $100,000 less in interest income and $50,000 less in mortgage tax. Additionally, a retirement increase of roughly $43,000 (65 percent) and nonpayment of between $500,000 and $600,000 in FEMA funds negatively impacted the town’s finances.
In the preliminary budget adopted by the town, the general and highway funds combined comprise $3,124,311 in total appropriations and provisions for other uses, minus $579,819 in estimated revenues and $182,000 in unexpended balance for a total figure of $2,362,492 to be raised by taxes.
During the budget discussion at the monthly meeting of the Middletown Town Board on Oct. 13, Supervisor Len Utter proposed not filling two highway department positions being vacated by the pending retirements of two members. Town board member Michael Finberg suggested that such a move could potentially leave the highway crew shorthanded, and proposed instead to not fill one highway position and to cut $45,000 from the equipment purchases budget.
By opting not to replace the retiring highway department employees, personnel from that department would drop from the current 17 to 15.
There will be a public hearing to discuss the budget at Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Middletown Town Hall. Copies of the preliminary budget are available in the town clerk’s office.
“We use our past experience and our best judgment and basically that’s about how we put it together,” said Middletown Supervisor Len Utter. “Of course there are some things we can’t juggle, like salaries – those are cast in concrete.”

Roxbury
The proposed budget adopted by the Roxbury Town Board reflects a total increase of four percent over last year, with $900,577 to be raised by tax.
As proposed, the preliminary budget’s general fund allows for $1,280,089 in total appropriations, with $441,234 of that going to government support, $126,020 allocated for public safety, $1,630 designated for health, $105,372 specified for transportation, $5,550 allotted for economic assistance, $65,085 for culture and recreation and $265,894 assigned to home and community. An additional $160,049 will be put toward employee benefits, while $109,255 will be allocated for debt service. The preliminary budget’s general fund reflects a $257,920 increase over last year. The budget estimates $349,512 in total revenues and $30,000 in unexpended balance, which results in the $900,577 figure to be raised by tax.
As for the highway fund, the preliminary budget shows $1,474,256 in total highway appropriations as well as $176,558 in employee benefits and $87,821 in debt service for a total of $1,738,635 in appropriations. With $180,025 expected in revenues, that brings the amount to be raised by tax to $1,558,610.
Copies of the 2010 preliminary budget are available from the Roxbury Town Clerk.
There will be a public hearing at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 5 at the Roxbury Town Hall to discuss the budget. Members of the public are welcome to attend.