BALLSTON SPA – Family Fun Day, Falling Leaves Festival, the annual Easter Egg Hunt, Winter Festival and Swimming Under the Stars are out of the 2018-2019 fiscal budget unanimously passed by the Village Board on Monday, April 30. The new budget also included a 17% increase in property taxes.
After three weeks of budget workshops between the mayor, board officials and the village’s department heads, a finalized budget was hashed out, lowering the tax increase from the previously proposed 25.9 percent. For a home worth $150,000 dollars, the owner’s average monthly village tax will increase $8.44 amounting to a 2.55 percent increase in one’s total tax bill.
While several departments had increases in their budgeted expenditures, others were able to find areas where which funding could be cut without jeopardizing services.
The decision to cut family events was made by Mayor Romano himself. Romano says he helped institute many of the regular events within his twenty-plus year tenure as mayor and was visibly upset as he announced this news.
“This is a very difficult decision for me to make,” Romano said. “If I’ve asked everyone else to tighten their belt, it’s only right that I also do the same thing.”
Romano also said in a follow-up call he hopes the cuts are just for this year. He is considering ideas posed from a few volunteers to consider sponsorships, fundraising and possibly the formation of a not-for-profit.
The Memorial Day parade is still budgeted for and will continue as scheduled.
New in the budget is a change to the water rate structure from a declining-use-scale to an increasing-use-scale as a revenue generator. The rate for the minimum use, or less than 30,000 gallons, will stay the same at $62.21 per thousand gallons. Those using more than 30,000 gallons are subject to rate increases as high as $2.30 per thousand gallons.
Water rate restructuring will begin February, 2019.
The board also noted several areas where the village could save money by renegotiating contracts, including insurance plans and fire protection contracts with surrounding municipalities.
“It was a team effort, everybody collaborated,” Trustee Shawn Raymond concluded. “This budget represents a positive direction moving forward.”