Shandaken budget up 2%; some seeking more cuts

By Jay Braman Jr.
The Shandaken Supervisor/Budget officer has proposed a spending plan for 2010 that would jump taxes only two percent over this year, but opponents of the administration say that during these tough times the plan doesn’t cut it.
When the plan was presented at town hall Monday night Councilman Rob Stanley, who is challenging Supervisor Peter DiSclafani for his post in this year’s election, asked the board to follow his lead and agree to reduce the budget even more by not giving town employees the three percent raise DiSclafani plans. Stanley also said that town board members, to show that they are trying to help taxpayers in these tough times, actually take a pay cut next year.
Under the plan as proposed by DiSclafani, the supervisor would receive $31,954 and the other four town board members would get $9,273. Stanley wanted those figures dropped, with the supervisor getting $30,000 and board members $9,000.
“This is coming on the backs of our neighbors and friends,” Stanley said of the proposed budget.
After some debate, board members Tim Malloy and Vince Bernstein agreed. DiSclafani agreed as well. During the official vote on the idea only Councilwoman Doris Bartlett, who is seeking re-election this year, voted against the pay cut.
No decision was made about the planned three percent raise for town’s nonunion employees, although Stanley noted that nearby governments, such as the Delaware County Board of Supervisors are planning on not handing out raises next year.
As the budget proposal currently stands, spending is actually down from $4.3 million this year to $4.1 million next year but a drop in expected revenues will have to be made up by John Q Taxpayer to the tune of $2.8 million, an increase of about 1.9 percent over the amount to be raised by taxes for 2009.
All departments showed small-to-no changes. Some went up a few hundred dollars, others went down a few hundred, and still others stay the same.
The departures from this pattern are, most notably, the ambulance department and to a lesser degree the police department, seeing increases of $33,000 and $14,500, respectively.
Substantially lower next year will be the cost for the tax assessor’s department. Down from $94,304 to $78,618. A reduction of $15,686. Building maintenance would also go down next year by $3,500, to $147,500. Insurance premiums drop $25,000 next year as well, down to $80,000 from this year’s $105,000.
The town board will now get to work on the proposed budget. Adjustments such as salary drops for the town board will be calculated in and a final budget plan will be introduced at a budget hearing set for Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 6 p.m.