Rhinebeck adopts town budget

Rhinebeck’s 2013 budget calls for laying off two town employees and using $366,000 from the town’s fund balance — the rainy day fund — to avoid going over the state-mandated tax cap.

In a special meeting Nov. 15., the town board unanimously adopted the final budget, which carries a 1.86 percent increase in the tax levy, according to councilman Joe Gelb. The increase is lower than anticipated, although the impact on property taxes was not available by press time.

“We’ve had to make a painful decision with respect to staffing, in the highway and maintenance departments,” Gelb said at the meeting. “We will terminate one person in each department.”

“I lay the loss of these jobs at the feet of the county,” councilwoman Gina Fox added, referring to the project loss of more than $40,000 in sales tax revenue to be cut by the county.

The $366,000 to be withdrawn from the town’s fund balance follows $441,000 used in the 2012 budget, according to Gelb.
“The town balances the budget by appropriating monies from the town fund balances,” he said. “It’s simple math that if you reduce fund balances every year that eventually fund balances will be used up.”

“At this rate, it will be depleted in four years,” added Spinzia.

Gelb also blamed the state-mandated 2 percent property tax cap and said that although the town [has the option to] override the tax cap to raise more revenue, “in the absence of public opinion supporting the override of the tax cap, at this point, I do not think that [the town board] should be the first jurisdiction affecting Rhinebeck town property owners to do so.”

The board members agreed that consolidation of services with Rhinebeck Village and other municipalities is key to balancing the budget.
“We have, as a unified board, concerned ourselves with the individuals while acting in the good of the community as a whole,” concluded Town Supervisor Tom Traudt. “It’s been difficult, but I’m proud of this board and we’ve done a good job.”

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