Rhinebeck village may override tax cap and can trash pickup

Overriding the state property tax cap and scrapping village trash pickup are two possibilities Rhinebeck village officials are looking at in planning the 2013-2014 village budget.

Tough choices will be considered, Mayor James Reardon told The Observer before village board trustees held the first in a series of public budget workshops Feb. 18 at the Village Hall.

One almost-certainty is a tax increase just for construction of the new village police station, which Reardon estimated would be “somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 percent.”

Reardon thinks the village board will probably have to override the 2 percent state property tax cap. Even though the override is “not our first choice,” he said, the tax cap, coupled with cuts in state aid, have left municipalities in a “very bad position — a very tenuous position.”

“We all know how challenging the times are,” Reardon said. “In theory, [the tax cap] is great… But it’s very difficult for municipalities to stay within the cap.”

“There’s not much possible to cut further,” he added. “We operate pretty lean to begin with. There’s not much fat there.”

One area Reardon said he and the trustees have “to take a long, hard look at” is the village’s trash pickup.

Town trucks, which the mayor suggested could need replacement before very long, currently pick up trash and recyclables from village residents each Tuesday and cardboard and newspaper once a month.

But only a quarter of village households take part, Reardon said. “When only 25 percent of people in the village use the service, what do you do?” he asked.

The village, he added, may consider “going out of the trash business,” noting the trustees have to increase efficiencies and “streamline as much as we can.”

In addition, the new police station, which is expected to be finished in April, should cost roughly $50,000 a year for 20 years, according to Reardon.

The village locked in a 2.99 percent interest rate in October for an up-to-$900,000 bond for the station’s construction, he said. That bond covers only construction and finishing of the new station—separate from earlier financing for planning and purchasing the property.

Reardon said he is hoping the final cost of the station, located behind the village firehouse, will come in under $900,000. The general construction, including electric, plumbing and heating, is budgeted at right around $760,000. That does not include lockers, other interior features or landscaping, or an $11,000 back-up generator purchased last month.

Last year, village residents paid 2.55 percent of the 2012-2013 budget for the bond used to purchase the new station property.
Following the initial budget workshop, village officials said one or two more meetings a month will be held through April. As the public meetings are scheduled, they will be announced on the village’s web site.

There will also be a public hearing held in April before the budget is submitted. May 1 is the deadline to get the budget to the county.

The new budget will take effect June 1 and run through May 31, 2014.

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