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Town of North Elba officials hold public hearing on preliminary 2022 budget

North Elba sign
Pat Bradley
North Elba sign

The Town of North Elba, New York held a public hearing on its preliminary 2022 budget proposal this week.

The initial budget that will go before the Town Board next week anticipates rising to $9.8 million from 2021’s $9.6 million in general fund spending. It includes proposed wage increases for most town employees including town officers. The tax levy would increase 2.69 percent.

North Elba Budget officer Catherine Edman provided an overview of the proposed budget to the town board and those attending the meeting virtually and in person, detailing various town districts’ and explaining some fiscal items such as why Ray Brook’s water district shows the largest increase in the tax levy.

“For 2022 the operating budget increased $8,600 which doesn’t sound like a lot. But the tax levy increased $9,800. With the increased use of the village of Lake Placid’s manpower out there they’re going to bill us more. And as it stands we have less revenue to pay it so the difference is the taxes because there’s not a lot of fund balance in Ray Brook.”

Edman noted that the town board could make changes to the proposal when it is submitted next week.

“As you guys review it before Tuesday’s meeting if there’s any changes that you want to address it’s still open to discussion. We can add more, take stuff out, adopt or appropriate more fund balance if necessary or, you know, all kinds of changes.”

Town Supervisor Jay Rand said he thinks it’s a good budget proposal.

“I know you put a lot of time and effort into this, and meeting with all of our department heads and everybody I know has put a lot of thought into this. And I think it’s a good budget and hopefully it’ll get us through the year. It’s a guideline.”

After the public hearing closed on the preliminary 2022 budget, the town board heard regular departmental reports. Edman reported on the status of the current budget, including potential overruns in overtime costs.

“I did a basic calculation and it looks like to get through the next four pay periods or paydays that we have left this year we would need about another $14,000 assuming that they only work straight time for the rest of the year. I think for the highway we’re going to be okay unless...”

A board member interrupts, “Storms.”

Edman continues, “I was thinking more along the lines of vacation buyouts. Because a lot of the guys wait until the end of the year for Christmas. I try to budget for that but you can never predict who’s going to buy out and who’s not.”

Edman also told board members that she will be meeting with union employees regarding authorized purchases for work clothing.

“They’re supposed to be going off of an approved list of clothing. Most of the highway guys that come through it says Carhartt jeans or Carhartt shorts. But today we had one that came through saying ladies Crocs. And we’re like what!? And basically it’s going to come down to if you guys abuse it then you will get the money in your paycheck and it will be taxed. The whole reason we do it through IDC (Indirect Cost Determination) is so that they don’t get taxed on it.”