Shandaken budget shows 2% hike

By Jay Braman Jr.
The election-year budget with a zero percent tax increase prepared last fall is a tough act to follow, but this year Shandaken Budget Officer/Supervisor Rob Stanley is following it up with one that only brings a little bit of pain to property owners.

Last year at this time Stanley produced a budget plan for 2012 that kept taxes the same as they were in 2011.

This month the supervisor, now in his second, two-year term following re-election last November, has put together a preliminary budget that carries only a two percent tax increase.
The plan passed unanimously at the October town board session.

The levy, which could change before being formerly adopted next month, goes up $59,573 from this year, from $2,981,845 to $3,041,418.

Explaining the plan, Stanley said that, unfortunately, budget cuts were needed, even in areas where people would suffer, such as a decline in support of local veterans and senior citizens.
To keep such cuts at a minimum, no raises were given town employees or officials, except those contractually obligated like the ones that town police and highway staff would get.

Also, department heads were asked to stretch dollars next year and, according to Stanley, they obliged.

“Budget lines are being frozen in every department, with most showing reductions,” he said.
In more welcome tax news, the Phoenicia Water District tax is slated to drop by just under four percent and the Phoenicia Fire District is reducing its tax levy a little more than one percent.
Big Indian Fire Company held the line, with a zero percent hike planned for 2013, but the Pine Hill Fire Company and the Highmount Fire Department will each raise taxes by about two percent.
Also, Ulster County’s property tax levy is expected to decrease for the first time in over 10 years according to County Executive Mike Hein, who last week unveiled his proposed spending plan for 2013.

The proposal, calls for spending to decrease by $3.6 million, or one percent to $359.3 million from
the 2012 level of $362.8 million. The county tax levy would drop by 0.16 percent.