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Finances

All towns in New York are presently preparing budgets for 2021. Budgets must be adopted by November 20.

Assemblyman Smullen and NYS Comptroller DiNapoli warned of a massive budget shortfall. This will result in reduced state aid to Caroga. They also warned of reduced sales tax revenue, which is a significant portion of the total revenue of the Town.

Highlights of the Tentative Budget

Basics of Municipal Accounting

You can read a short introduction to municipal accounting here.

Comments on the Proposed 2021 Budget

You can read email comments here.

Overview of the Proposed 2021 Budget

A “Tentative Budget” was passed earlier today (October 21, 2020). Details wil be forthcoming shortly. The discussion below needs to be updated and will be shortly.

All dollar figures below are annual amounts. In town budgets, general accounts, highway accounts, and fire accounts are all kept separate. This overview focuses primarily on the general accounts.

Expected Significant Revenues Changes for 2021

At minimum, this is a reduction in revenue of $50,000. It would be $70,000 if the expected Golf Course revenue was kept flat on the assumption that the spike in usage was COVID-19 related.

Proposed Appropriation Changes for 2021

Not noted specifically here, but unless otherwise noted, most non-elected position salaries were increased by 2%. Note that this is more than the 1.56% inflation factor published by the NYS Comptroller in July.

It is important to note that other towns are not only freezing their budgets, they are not even offering cost of living adjustments.

The 2% inflation increase, is above the NYS Comptroller 1.56% tax cap figure. These increases are at the same time that the highlighted general account revenues are expected to fall at least $50,000. Some of these increased appropriations should result in improved government services. For example, the Code Office has been recognized as understaffed for the last few years. Inspections, blight remediation, and code enforcement suffer as a result. The current phone system is old and not officially supported by the vendor, but the Supervisor and Code Office report no problems. Past Supervisors have not required a Confidential Secretary to do their job.

The question is: what will the property owners gain in government service by the proposed salary increases and $12,000 increase for “Celebrations”, leaving aside the other increases? This seems particularly poorly timed, given the reductions in revenue. To balance the budget (i.e., to not draw down any Fund Balance) would require, by the calculations shown in the spreadsheet example on the Budgets test spreadsheet page, a much larger property tax increase. Such an increase would be well above New York State’s Property Tax Cap for the Town of Caroga.

Tentative, Preliminary, and Past Budgets

Here are various versions of the 2021 budget presented as web pages, spreadsheets, or printable PDFs, along with the adopted 2020 budget.

Town Property Tax Cap

Town tax levies are subject to a Property Tax Cap.

Tax Rate for the Current Year

The tax rate for properties in the Town of Caroga may be found here.

Copyright © James McMartin Long 2017-2020