Town working out ‘kinks’ to finalize budget process

The Whitehall town spending plan for 2010 has been approved, but final “tweaks” are being made before the plan is submitted to the county by the Nov. 20 deadline.

 

 


Budget officer Keith Whiting said the final budget numbers would be determined by the Washington County deadline, and the 2010 budget currently called for a 5.44-percent increase in tax revenue.

 

Whiting said the major increases to the 2010 spending plan include two loans that will go toward a pair of projects that need to be completed.

 

“I anticipated that the loan for the roof was going to be at $47,000, but that went up to $50,000,” said Whiting. “We are also figuring for the loan for $132,000 for the cleanup at the Troy Shirt property.”

 

Another addition before the public hearing was the addition of $2,500 to help pay for the repairs to the roof at the Skenesborough Museum, along with the addition of $600 in revenue.

 

At the Nov. 4 public hearing, some changes were made to the preliminary budget, including the addition of $5,000 to the fire district. Originally, board members were not going to give an increase to the $69,000 given to the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company in 2009, but changed their minds after hearing from company member Brian Brooks and lawyer Mike O’Connor. The increase will give the company $74,000 for 2010. The fire company had originally asked for a $15,000 funding increase.

 

The board also cut $2,000 out of the budget for historical services. The line item originally stood at $4,000 and was cut in half before the public hearing before being completely deleted on Nov. 4.

 

Along with the spending plan, the town board voted to give the town highway department employees a zero-percent increase for 2010, knowing that any pay increases would come after negotiations between the town and the newly formed employees union.

 

“This union business does not set well in my craw to begin with,” said Town Councilman David Hollister. “It will be easier to go up from zero percent then to go down from three percent.”

 

Councilmen agreed that increases to the highway salaries would have to be covered by the contingency funds in the budget.

 

No other offices within the town were given increases in the preliminary or approved budget.

 

Overall, Whiting said, the 2010 spending plan represents the most bottom-line plan that would be developed.

 

“We are getting down as far as we can,” said Whiting, “You can’t run without a little slush, but this is as nitty-gritty as it gets.”

 

“Really, it isn’t that bad, though,” said Councilman Farrell Prefountaine.

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