Hyde Park’s tentative 2014 budget calls for 2.3% property tax increase

With key revenue sources dipping, the Hyde Park Town Board is considering a 2014 budget with a slight increase in the property tax rate.

At the Town Board meeting Mon., Oct. 7, Comptroller Tom Carey presented a preliminary proposed budget of $8,833,639 for General and Highway programs, an appropriation figure that is down by $188,306 from last year. But with incoming revenue declining, 65.2 percent of the budget, $5,765,535, will have to be raised through local property taxes, he said.

Carey indicated that the current tax rate of $6.09 per $1,000 of assessed valuation would increase to $6.21 per thousand under the preliminary budget. That translates to a projected increase of $16.80 for a typical residential property assessed at $140,000, he said.

That also means a 2.34 percent overall tax increase, which will be higher than the state-mandated property tax cap of 1.66 percent for next year.

The preliminary budget will undergo review over the next four weeks before the state deadline for passage. Supervisor Aileen Rohr said there would be a public hearing on Mon., Nov. 4 at 7pm, which would then give the town board another two weeks to finalize the numbers.

Rohr added, “We appreciate working with Walt Doyle, our highway superintendent, as we attempt to keep any tax increases as low as possible.” The highway portion of the budget represents approximately 34 percent of the total appropriations.

In presenting several key accounting figures, Carey said that the total assessed valuation of town properties had improved by $4 million, partly because of the opening of the new Stop & Shop, Rondout Savings Bank and Dunkin’ Donuts on Route 9, as well as other new commercial and residential construction.

The increase, however, was offset by the lowering of key revenue sources, mainly mortgage taxes, sales tax, and building permit fees. The mortgage tax revenue estimate is $320,000, down from the 2012 figure of $350,000, and building permits fell $40,000, from $121,000 to $71,000. The deepest drop in revenue, however, appears in sales taxes, falling from $1,179,640 in 2012 to a projected estimate of $975.941 for 2014.

The board also expects to use $141,000 from the town’s fund balance, leaving it with approximately $750,000.

According to both Carey and Rohr, some final figures may still have to be considered because the town is still negotiating with two of its bargaining units.

At the meeting, Ann Boehm, Republican candidate for Supervisor, asked that the board consider removing the tax collector fee of $58,000 from the budget.

And Joe Kakish, Republican candidate for Ward 3 on the town council, suggested that the proposed salary increases for town officials, to restore them to the 2011 level, be rejected. The preliminary budget calls for a $5,500 increase in the supervisor’s salary, from $19,000 this year to $24,500 next year, along with a $1,500 increase for town board members, from $5,000 this year to $7,500 in 2014.

Bob Linville, who chaired the Government Efficiency Advisory Committee, however, disagreed with Kakish and thanked the board for incorporating his committee’s recommendation for salary restorations.

“We expect the supervisor’s job to be a full-time one,” said Linville. “And when compared to the $58,000 paid to the Town Supervisor in Fishkill, and $72,000 in East Fishkill, Hyde Park still has some of the lowest salaries in Dutchess County for towns of equal size.”

The town board at its meeting also passed Local Law 3 for 2013, which will allow it to override the state’s property tax cap. The law, which requires a 60 percent approval from board members, was enacted unanimously and provides the town with a necessary safety value for final passage of its budget.

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