Colonie Budget: Approved
The Colonie, New York budget is now on the books. The spending plan was passed last night.
By a 6-1 vote the town board approved the thrice-revised budget, which totals $95.6 million, following a two and a half hour public hearing that encompassed a variety of other topics as well. Supervisor Paula Mahan says her financial plan for the Albany suburb reflects increased salaries for town workers, carries on with infrastructure improvements and public safety initiatives, and covers a hefty $900,000 hike in town employee health insurance costs. "We were able to vote. We answered all questions. And for the median-price household the increase will be approximately $2.43 per month. But we're able to get everything done with that amount, which is, you know, a very fair budget we feel and we are very pleased with the results. And we've got some good things in the works coming for 2019 so we'll be able to move forward on that and we're progressing nicely."
The Democrat concedes her budget raised taxes above the cap. "If we did not exceed the tax cap by 10 cents per thousand, we would have to give up some positions and we'd have to sacrifice some public safety."
The opposing vote was cast by first-term Republican councilwoman Jennifer Whalen, who is uncomfortable with the raises being given to some town employees. "Basically the whole crux of the tax increase is that union contracts require us to give raises to laborers. Fine. I value our workforce, but I waived my raise and I don't think that we should be giving raises. The raises aren't mandated by union contracts. I don't think that we should be awarding raises this year to upper management folks that are making over, you know, some of them are making over a hundred thousand dollars a year and basically sending the bill to the taxpayer."
Mahan defended the raises as modest and necessary. "Our department heads are included in the raises and it's an average over the four years of 1.25 per year, which is very low. And they've gone many years without raises, so you get into that situation where you could have your staff making more than the department heads. And I know, you know, just kind of watching things in some municipalities, they end up having to do very large raises at times because they're trying to catch up. It seems to be everyone agrees except for one that it's more responsible to do things gradually rather than be hit all at once. So it's a very minimal raise for our employees."
The total tax increase is 5.48 percent, rising from $3.72 to $3.90 per $1,000 of assessed value.