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Colonie's Preliminary Budget Hikes Taxes 7.5 Percent

Town of Colonie Supervisor Paula Mahan
WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas
Town of Colonie Supervisor Paula Mahan

The proposed budget in the town of Colonie would increase taxes beyond the state’s tax cap.

Democratic Town Supervisor Paula Mahan’s budget proposal includes a 5.2 percent total increase over 2018, carrying a 7.5 percent tax hike. The state tax cap is 2 percent.   "The net tax rate increase is about 29.8 cents per thousand of assessed taxable value, and it averages out for the median taxable value home in the town of Colonie about $3.50 increase per month. Now, our tax cap, the 2 percent tax levy cap comes out to be about 4.15 percent. We're going over by 4.15 percent, that's what we're recommending to the board. They'll take a look at that and we'll see where we go from there. But what it is for the median taxable value home, it adds $1.96 per month."

Mahan says the $95.6 million spending plan for the Albany suburb reflects increased salaries for town workers, carrying on with infrastructure improvements and public safety initiatives , and covering a $900,000 hike in town employee health insurance costs.   "We will go before the board for our public hearings and then with the public hearings, people, the public gets a chance to weigh in as well, and then eventually we will come to a vote to see where we go from there. So were hoping, you know, that this will go over well. No one wants a little increase but it's  — our property tax rate is so low that it equates to pennies."

Republican Town Councilman David Green says the cost of health insurance, salaries for the town workforce and debt service contributed to the spending and tax levy increases.   "I think that when residents see that their town portion of their 2019 tax bill goes up probably on average around 42, 43 dollars, the primary reason for that is having a staff, a great staff, over 500 full-time employees and at times 200 part-time in the town plus the cost of health of care, is a predominant reason why that is going on. Now, at the beginning of the budget session, the increase looked like it was gonna be a lot worse, but through the dilligent efforts of our supervisor, our other elected officials, and the comptroller and department heads, we got that down to where we are now."

The town board has scheduled a public hearing at Town Hall 7 p.m. October 25th on adopting a local law to exceed the tax cap, a requirement before it can vote on the budget.

Green believes the budget will pass.   "I'm 100 percent positive that the board is gonna pass this. This is something that's been a working process that every member of the board and the supervisor has been involved in for some time, and we knew there was going to have to be a tax increase that was gonna go outside the tax cap this year. It was damage control over the last number of months making sure that that increase was as minimal as possible."

A budget hearing is set for Nov. 8. at  7 p.m. at Town Hall.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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