Red Hook village starts budget process

The village of Red Hook board will begin its budget process with a workshop Feb. 14 at 7pm. These workshops, held at Village Hall, are open to the public. The board plans to meet every subsequent Thursday at the same time to complete its work before the March 20 “tentative budget” deadline.

In an interview, Mayor Ed Blundell outlined challenges the village faces this year, including the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap, which the board had to override last year. “We give it a hard look every year,” he said.

The reduction in sales tax revenue available from the county will be another hurdle, he said, but he had no further specifics on any line item issues.

The 2012 budget raised taxes by 7.21 percent, which required the tax cap override. Part of the reason for the increase was the revelation that the village owed the fire department approximately $40,000 in missed payments, which will be made up over a four-year period. Also a factor was an increase in state-mandated pension contributions. Cuts to the police department budget were also controversial. The total budget was $1,775,096, with about 63 percent funded by property taxes.

Still, Blundell anticipated a smooth budget process this year, because he said the village has so far kept to its budget for 2012 and most of the members of the board have been through the process before. “We’re holding pretty well to what we projected last year,” he said.

Blundell described the village’s budget process as “collegial,” with each member of the board proposing specific budget ideas for the areas they oversee. As part of the planning process, he and other board members use a spreadsheet based on the past two fiscal years to model the potential impact of changes to the budget.

The board has also worked hard to hold the line on how budget dollars are spent once they are allocated, he added. “Every department has to stay within budget; it’s our goal, it’s our prediction,” he said. “You can’t predict everything, but a lot you can.”

A public hearing on the budget will be held by April 15 and the final budget vote is expected by May 1. The village’s fiscal year runs from June 1 to May 31.

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