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Ticonderoga tentative budget exceeds tax cap

Mandates force fire budgets up

The cost of state mandates for local fire companies has the tentative 2013 Ticonderoga budget about 3 percent over the current spending plan.

The cost of state mandates for local fire companies has the tentative 2013 Ticonderoga budget about 3 percent over the current spending plan.

— The cost of state mandates for local fire companies has the tentative 2013 Ticonderoga budget about 3 percent over the current spending plan.

The tentative budget for 2013 in Ticonderoga totals $8,890,163, according to Supervisor Deb Malaney. That’s a increase of less than 3 percent from the 2012 spending plan.

That means cuts will have to be made if the town is to meet the state’s 2 percent property tax increase limit.

Malaney said a new county emergency services radio system, required by the state, means the Ticonderoga and Chilson fire companies must upgrade equipment. That means an 8 percent increase in the Ti fire budget and a 27 percent hike in Chilson fire spending.

The remainder of the town budget is at the 2 percent tax cap.

The supervisor stressed the 2013 budget plan is tentative and is still subject to changes.

Malaney said the town board will work with the fire companies to either reduce their budget needs or override the tax cap. The state allows municipalities to override the tax cap with a 60 percent vote in favor.

The tentative 2013 Ti budget does not include include any employee or program reductions. The 2012 budget eliminated five jobs, froze employee pay and cut the summer youth recreation program.

“As a result of three years of downsizing, offering early retirements and wage freezes we’re in pretty good shape,” Malaney said. “We’ve been pinching pennies to get to this point.”

The tentative budget includes a 14 percent increase in employee health insurance costs and a new reserve fund for building maintenance.

“We have beautiful, historic buildings,” Malaney said. “We need a reserve fund for maintenance. We can’t simply ignore them while they deteriorate.”

Helping in the 2013 budget process is a new computer accounting system.

The state-of-the-art bookkeeping software system means the town is able to print detailed financial reports and monitor how its budget is followed throughout the year. The new system cost $45,000.

“This (new system) makes the budget process much easier,” Malaney said. “We have more more detailed information in a much more timely fashion. Everything is computerized now.”

The system’s cost includes two years of software maintenance and training for employees.

“It unites the finance department, water and sewer, highway department, town budget, supervisor’s office and the town clerk’s office,” Malaney said. “They are all tied in. It’s wonderful system.”

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