Ronald W. Nesbitt

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Dec 05

No Town Tax Increase in the 2012 Budget for the Fifth Year in a Row

Posted on December 5, 2011 at 11:44 AM by PattiAnn Schultz

On Wednesday, December 7th at 7:30 p.m., the Town Board will be holding a special meeting to vote on the 2012 Town Budget. The public is invited to attend this meeting at Town Hall, or watch it on Cable Channel 12. This budget will not contain a tax increase for a fifth consecutive year but it comes at steep price.

Two of our police officers have accepted the early retirement incentive made by the town. However, in order to balance the town budget two other positions at Town Hall were eliminated last week. One position was in the Police Department, involving a civilian employee, and another in the Department of Public Works.

As previously announced, two positions at the Highway Department will remain unfilled plus the Webster Public Library’s budget will be reduced by $50,000. Personally, I do not like to see anyone lose his or her job, especially in this economy, and having to inform people that they no longer work for the town was a very emotional experience for me. However, I do have a responsibility to make sure the town budget is balanced and unfortunately, in order to accomplish that end, a decision was made to eliminate these positions.

As I have stated in previous columns, for years the town has been doing more with less. This will especially be the case in 2012. At tonight’s meeting I will explain, in detail, the 2012 budget. I will also have some comments about the 2013 proposed budget, which the Town Board has already started working on.

I will inform the community that unless our economy picks up next year and the town starts to see an increase in revenue, the chances are very good that town taxes will have to be raised in 2013. This is not something that the Town Board nor I relish doing, but it will be a necessity because the town can no longer dip into its reserve fund to balance the town’s budget.

One may ask so how has the town found itself in the position it is currently is in. Let me attempt to answer those questions. Our Assessing Department personnel are required to handle STAR applications. The Town Clerk’s office collects school district taxes. This means that the town has to make sure we have the staff available to perform both of these functions even though both programs are school district related and it is the Webster School District that reaps the benefits. This is what is termed as unfunded state mandates. In other words lawmakers in Albany have decided that municipalities, and not school districts, must administer STAR applications and collect school taxes, which frees up school districts from having to hire their own staff to perform these jobs.

So, the financial burden falls on the towns. Retirement and health care coverage has skyrocketed over the past few years. Even though the town of Webster has managed to obtain a lower rate for health care coverage for our employees, that figure is expected to increase over the next few years. Pension costs are also going up as more and more people who are part of the state retirement system decide to retire.
The cost of gasoline and other fossil fuels have also increased. Actually, the higher the price of gasoline at the pumps the more money municipalities make from the tax collected. However, I certainly do not want to pay more money to fill up my vehicle, as I am sure neither do you.

Finally, the town has an obligation to the unions representing our employees to adhere to contract agreements worked out between both sides. This year the town reached a contract agreement with the union representing police officers. Next year the town will begin negotiations with our white and blue collar unions. I have been straightforward with union negotiators in explaining that the town cannot afford huge salary increases.

I would also very much like to thank the other members of the Town Board: Bill Abbott, Patti Cataldi, Randy Nelson, and Barry Deane for the many hours they have put in on balancing this budget.

Once again, I would like to invite the general public to tonight’s special Town Board meeting on the 2012 Budget. The meeting is at Town Hall and starts at 7:30 p.m.

If you have any questions about your town government please contact me during regular business hours at (585)872-7068; or email me anytime at supervisor@ci.webster.ny.us

Ronald W. Nesbitt
Webster Town Supervisor