Shandaken super plugs $5K in proposed budget


By Jay Braman Jr.
Shandaken’s 2014 budget proposal calls for a small jump in the tax levy but a big jump in the salaries of the town’s top elected officials. Under the plan, which is still tentative and will be discussed on Monday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. in town hall, taxes would go up only 0.3 percent.
The town supervisor’s salary would jump 16.67 percent and the highway superintendent’s salary would go up 7.11 percent.

The plan also calls for the wages of the four town council positions to have no salary increase at all, and the rest of the town’s elected officials (two town justices, town clerk, three tax assessors) would receive a 2 percent salary increase.

Total spending would increase 0.11 percent. In 2013, total spending is budgeted at $2,358,962. In 2014 that figure would increase only $2,547.000.
Unexpended fund balances, the cushions in the budget, drop slightly for both the highway department and general funds, with the latter’s going from $130,000 to $120,000 and the former’s dipping from $551,783 to an even $550,000.

Although the bottom line of the spending plan changes little, some of the line-item spending show large changes, such a dramatic decrease in social services costs, which are projected to drop next year from $60,000 to $37,000.

Another drop would occur in the office of the highway department’s secretary, with a salary reduction from $32,046 this year to $25,584 next year. Overtime for the highway secretary would go down from $4,203 to an even $1,000.

Earlier this year the highway department’s secretary, Florence Sullivan was removed from her position after being arrested on charges of grand larceny and two other felonies. It is alleged that she was lining her pockets with taxpayer money for years with over $20,000 being taken before authorities discovered what she was doing.

Going up next year, if the tentative budget is passed as is, would be the salary for the town’s ambulance department chief from a current $10,000 to $12,500, or an increase of 25 percent.
Both Superintendent of Highways Eric Hofmeister and Town Supervisor Rob Stanley have track records of keeping tax increases low without cutting services. Both are up for re-election this year. Stanley is running unopposed for a third, two-year term. Hofmeister, who seeks a forth, two-year term next month, faces a challenge by former Highway Superintendent Keith Johnson.
Under the budget proposals prepared by the two, Hofmeister’s salary would increase from $44,346 to $47,500. Stanley’s salary would go up from $30,000 to $35,000 for the part-time position of supervisor.

It should be noted that Stanley, who could not be reached for comment, is also proposing to lower other expenses, such as equipment and contractual costs, significantly. By eliminating the $2,000 budget line for his equipment and dropping contractual from this year’s $24,572 down to $6,000 the total amount of spending for the supervisor’s office goes down 14 percent.
The 2014 budget also has a new line item on the revenue side called “Forfeitures of Crime,” which is expected to net the town $5,000 next year.