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Budgets pass in Rotterdam, Niskayuna

The Rotterdam Town Board November 15, 2023 meeting.
The Rotterdam Town Board November 15, 2023 meeting.

Budgets have passed in two Schenectady County towns.  

The Rotterdam Town Board approved a $29 million budget that gives raises to town employees and slightly bumps up the tax rate for residential property owners by 2.6%, and a higher rate for all other property owners, called a "non-homestead tax," by 7%.

"Call the roll."
"Mr. Christou?"
"Mrs. Miller-Herrera."
"No. "
"Mr. Dodson."
"Mr. Mastroianni?"
"And Mrs. Collins."
"Four Yes, one No. Resolution passes."

Conservative board member Joe Mastroianni said "Insurance benefits, pension benefits and payroll jumped about a million dollars from this current year and make up for the increase that the budget had going from $28 million roughly to roughly $29 million in just one year."

Mastroianni adds the town is looking into consolidating its unions' insurance plans, under a single insurance provider, giving Rotterdam a better rate.

Samantha Miller-Herrera, a Democrat who cast the lone "no" vote Nov. 15, could not be reached for comment.

 Also by a 4 to 1 vote, the Niskayuna Town Board approved a $19.5 million 2024 spending plan Nov. 16. Supervisor Jaime Puccioni said "Similar to other municipalities, we are facing significant increase fees for health care retirement costs, as well as higher costs for chemicals equipment, fuel electricity. So the budget will transfer fund balance to support revenues to ensure that the residential tax increase is minimal. It is essentially returning tax dollars to our residents. More specifically, the budget has a point five 5% residential tax increase from 2023, which is an actual increase of two cents per $1,000 of home value."

Puccioni, a Democrat, adds Niskayuna is working to pay down short-term debt while working with the town comptroller to develop a five-year spending plan.

Republican Board Member Jason Moskowitz voted "no." He did not return calls for comment.

The budget funds two new police officers and adds an additional sergeant so that the town can reinstate a traffic division, bringing the town police department up to 32 officers. Youth programs will get additional oversight from a new Assistant Community Programs Director.

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.