Rhinebeck village finalizes budget

Rhinebeck Village Mayor Jim Reardon has been loud and clear in explaining, for several months, that building the new police station would force the village over the 2 percent tax levy cap for its new 2013-2014 budget.

The Board of Trustees made that official April 29, after holding several public hearings in order to override the cap. They voted unanimously on the new budget and the tax-cap override.

In total, the village’s expenditures were finalized at $2,287,327, down from $2,304,237 the year before. However, more of that money has to be levied from the taxpayers, which will increase the tax levy this year to 4.9 percent greater than last year. That translates to $3.88 per thousand of assessed property value, which, for a homeowner of a $200,000 house, means a tax bill of $776.

The bonding out of construction on the new police station accounts for nearly 4 percent of the village’s increase in its tax levy, Reardon said.

The new budget also includes the elimination of garbage service in the community, which is used by fewer than half of its residents and costs the village thousands of dollars to maintain. Reardon said that although the savings will not be immediate, Rhinebeck will be spared future expenses in equipment purchases. The service will be cut out beginning in September.

Reardon had been vocal in recent months about the need to break the tax cap, and said that the finalized budget “actually came in a bit lower” than he had expected. The final interest rate on the bond was slightly less than originally projected, he said.

In order to break the cap, the village was required to pass a local law and hold a public hearing on the issue. There was little opposition to the proposal during the public meetings.

Reardon stressed that a lack of mandate relief from the state is putting a financial burden on the village. He gave one example of a state-mandated purchase of approximately $25,000 in fire equipment that added to this year’s budget expenditures.

The number of municipalities that are looking to break the tax cap in this year’s budget process has nearly doubled from last year, according to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

“Let’s hope that Albany can give us some mandate relief,” Reardon said. “We’re really handcuffing our operations.”

Reardon described the budget process as being extremely involved and detailed this year, due to the village’s fiscal constraints.

“You’re forced to analyze every single detail,” Reardon said.

The board will look into receiving training from the State Comptroller on creating fiscally sound budgets within the next year, according to Reardon.

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