Preliminary budget hits $1 million mark

Although the town budget for Whitehall is below the 2-percent cap on municipal expenditures, meaning its tax effect will likely be small, the total budget figure marks a town milestone, hitting the $1 million mark.

Town Supervisor George Armstrong said that the total budget of $1,105,348 was strictly a preliminary figure that could still be trimmed in future budget sessions; moreover, $185,962 of the budget, or the money amount that pushes it over a million, is anticipated revenues from the state, from sales tax and town fees.

A more valid comparison between 2013 and 2014 is the amount to be raised by taxes, Armstrong said. In the 2013 budget, $831, 341 was raised by taxes. In the preliminary 2014 budget, the town proposes raising $853, 214.

That is a tax levy increase of only $22,000. In percentages, the increase is 1.86 percent, or comfortably below the two percent cap, Armstrong showed. Another way of looking at it is to say that the tax levy increase is 0.14 percent under the state’s 2 percent cap on spending increases.

Official data on an individual’s tax increase, based on $1,000 of assessed valuation, is not available yet, as this is a preliminary budget. In fact, official statistics of that kind are not ready until a budget is in place around January, Armstrong said.

However, Supervisor Armstrong stressed that an estimate on a homeowner’s individual tax increase would be made public by the town when its budget is adopted.

Budget Highlights Explained

Armstrong, who had supplied the Whitehall Times with a copy of the preliminary budget, spent the rest of a Monday interview pointing out the highlights of the budget:

$40,000 in the budget has been earmarked for construction of court facilities for both town and village in the new Whitehall Municipal Center, Armstrong said. This $40,000 is part of a grant, $20,000 of which has already been spent building the new village police headquarters, Armstrong said.

Another $20,000 has been earmarked for construction of a new salt shed to replace the existing salt shed at the town garage off Route 4. “New York State will order it anyway,” Armstrong said, explaining that the town wanted to get ahead of the game.

And more than a $19,000 increase from $66,000 in state highway aid has been pledged by the state to the town for road blacktopping and other repairs.

The town is also expected to increase the amount of money it provides the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company, but those negotiations are ongoing.

At present, the town has penciled in a $15,000 increase. According to a copy of the preliminary budget, $98,140 was the town levy for fire protection in 2013. The amount to be raised by taxes in 2014 is $108,858, an increase of $10,718.

The town was expected to make further adjustments to the budget before adopting a preliminary budget and scheduling a public hearing.

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