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State of New York
County of Fulton
Town of Caroga
Minutes of a Caroga Town Board Budget meeting held Wednesday October 2, 2019 at the municipal building located at 1840 State Highway #10 at 7:00 pm with the following persons in attendance by roll call:
Supervisor James K. Selmser - Here
Council Member John Glenn - Here
Council Member Jeremy Manning - Here
Council Member James Long - Here
Council Member Kent Kirch - Here
There were 3 members of the public in attendance along with the Highway Superintendent - Steve Putman and the Bookkeeper/Budget Director Joanne Young.
Supervisor Selmser opened the meeting with the pledge of allegiance. The public was invited to discuss any issues or concerns they wanted to bring to the boards attention.
There weren’t any public comments.
The Supervisor stated they would look into a few areas they didn’t last week in the budget.
The Bookkeeper gave an update on the budget. She stated it was not revised a lot. She made the changes the board talked about last meeting. The only thing she did not change were the salaries. They are highlighted. What was submitted by the department head was put in the budget. It was noted that the board needed to discuss the final numbers for the trail grant. The Supervisor stated Council Member Manning had some new numbers on that, that will effect revenue and expenses.
The Bookkeeper noted thing to be talked about today would be what the board is looking at for the possibility of raising taxes, what the board wants to spend from the fund balance for next year, and looking to make up some of the shortfalls that we might have going forward in the future.
The Supervisor told the Bookkeeper not to change a couple of the budget lines on the payroll – a lot of them they talked about a 3% change but a couple of the lines submitted were above the 3%. He wanted to discuss with the board going 3% across the board for everybody or if the court asked for 5% and the clerk asked for additional increases – What was the opinion of the board. Council Member Kirch stated he thought they would do another 3% this year to get caught up because of the 0% increase the year before. The Highway Department has a contract.
The Bookkeeper did the calculations that if the board gave 3% across the board – that means taking out the more than 3% where asked and adding to those who asked for less than 3% except the codes area, would change the budget by plus $11,299.00.
Page 6 – upgrading one position in Safety Inspections was discussed. It was for an equally qualified assistant. Council Member Long strongly supported this. The total of Safety Inspections would be $69,000.00. The line item A3620.12 would be $28,000.00. Along with $8,000.00 for the clerk A 3620.11. The Town clerk asked if the line item was a salaried position or hourly. Hourly was the response.
The board did not want the Bookkeeper to give a figure for what each of the salaries would be. The board stated she could update it later.
Page 19- The Supervisor gave the Bookkeeper one increase to make on revenue under Intergovernmental Charges DA2300 should be increased by $3,094.00 for the mowing income generated for the yearly contract. The increase was explained to the Highway Superintendent.
Page 14 A1120 the Supervisor noted we didn’t have the third quarter sales tax but looking at the averages of the last five years he thinks we will come in to meet the current year budget assuming it is approximately $360,000.00.
The only other component is the fund balances. The Supervisor gave an estimate of where we are now and the anticipated expenses to be spent. In the general area combining all the accounts we have $921,000.00 as of 10/1. We will have sales tax coming in of $334,00.00. There will be additional revenue paid from the golf course and estimates $88,000.00 based on the history of the last two years. For the 3 month period the expenses for 2017 they were $283,000.00 and in 2018 they were $271,000.00. He is estimating it will be approx. $280,000.00. Using those numbers that would leave a fund balance at the end of the year of $1,630,000.00 in general.
In the highway the town is a little on the light side. He estimated $223,000.00 could come from fund balance this year. We will use the balances in the bank – right now there is $180,000.00. We are going to spend $200,000.00 and get reimburse $220,000.00 from the CHIPS money but not until mid-December. The Supervisor noted some time in the future money may need to be taken from general to use in highway. If you do that the state considered a borrowing factor and the town has to pay itself back with interest.
The Bookkeeper just returned from an advanced Comptroller class. She noted the two funds are separate – General and Highway. We are not able to transfer money from one to another if you are cash poor at the end of the year. If you have to loan money to the highway it would have to be paid back with interest. The loan would have to be paid back within that year. She asked today how the town could subsidize the account because there is a lot more money in the general account as opposed to cash on hand in highway. What is a possibility is instead of labeling it loan would be a budget modification. When we get the third quarter sales tax the board could make a budget modification to reduce the expected revenues of the sales tax in the A account and add a budget modification into highway from the sales tax revenue. It is not a transfer as it had never been deposited into the general account. It is a change in revenue source for the highway. The budget officer suggested appropriating $150,000.00. It was noted that we haven’t ever had a huge excess in the highway. Maybe going forward the board may want to consider instead of raising the taxes the maximum you have to, in the highway to make up raises or other costs, look to make this a permanent budget modification so that not all sales taxes goes into the general. This could be a steadier way to budget.
The Supervisor stated the other choice is not to levy any taxes for general. The Bookkeeper stated that would be a band aid. We know the highway expenses are never going down. She suggested having one sales tax payment out of the year go to highway. The constraints for the 2% sales tax cap was mentioned. Council Member Long stated you could change the rate per thousand in general and highway but that is a permanent change. The total assessed value is not going down he stated, so that is a secure revenue stream also. At the training it was stated that the cap is here for the long haul.
The front page of the prepared budget shows the maximum we can go - $32,000.00 unless we decide to go lower. The Bookkeeper put in the maximum. Unless the board wanted to override. They didn’t want to do that.
Council Member Kirch reiterated that we need to do something for the fund balance for the highway department. Doing it quarterly so there is constantly money going into that fund balance would make more sense to him than a once a year thing. He suggested $25,000.00 every quarter out of the sales tax be put it in the highway fund. That would start to enhance that. Supervisor Selmser noted a future board may think differently. He noted the money comes in quickly in January. It was noted that the highway fund will need $264,000.00 in revenue next year. We have to grow it somehow.
Mrs. Barrett wondered if since the funds were coming into the Highway Department could that go for the salt shed they have been putting off for years? The supervisor noted we would have to enhance the balance by a couple hundred thousand dollars. If we could do that, some of the money would have to match a possible grant.
Council Member Glenn read in the newspaper that the Town of Johnstown bonded for a salt shed. Would bonding help us out? It was noted when you borrow money you have to make principal and interest payments depending on size of the bond. You would have to build that into the budget for 3 to 5 years depending on what the state allows.
Mr. Putman noted there is money out there now for salt sheds. The assemblyman may be able to help the town with this. The max estimate for the salt shed is about $700,000.00.
Mr. Horton stated once you give it, it’s harder to take it away. He thought the board should take $150,000.00 now because we know where we are now.
Supervisor Selmser thinks it’s better to do a one-time thing.
The Budget Director stated the board has possibilities. You should budget for this.
Council Member Kirch was in favor of a onetime adjustment.
Supervisor Selmser stated if we do that then we would probably take less fund balance. We would increase that to $300,000.00. We could reduce the tax levy by a small amount by $35,000.00 then everything else would pretty much remain the same. The rate per thousand would be flat. The amount to be raised the $637,000.00 reduce that to say $600,000.00.
Council Member Long stated he was all in favor of lowering the rate per thousand as low as we can. He would like to keep it flat.
The Budget Director noted this year the taxable assessed value (per the assessor) went down $300,000.00. This could be because someone became exempt or something being taken off the tax roll.
The Supervisor thought the number would grow next year with all the construction going on.
Council Member Kirch likes holding it flat but also thinks it is not smart to lose the ability to keep moving it up. So if take inflation and apply it to the $5.82 for this year and put 3%
inflation on it that will get you to $5.99 or $6.00. He thinks the target should be $6 which is below the cap. Supervisor Selmser wanted to keep it at $5.99.5. He stated we can back into the number.
The Supervisor wanted to keep the general fund at the same rate. Which would be a slight increase because of the tax levy going down. The tax rate for general would be $1.01 and we will flush everything else through highway. The Fire Contract would be $0.89.
Supervisor Selmser stated last year in the general fund $157,013.00 was raised. Three percent of that is $161,710.00.
Council Member Kirch stated we are increasing the rate by $0.17. Why not put $0.04 in the general and the rest in highway.
Council Member Long stated his contention that the rate per thousand should stay the same. He stated that Professor Robert Shiller of Yale had demonstrated that property prices, over the long haul and over broad areas, go up with inflation. Over the long haul, assessed values track property prices. If the rate per thousand assessed value goes up with inflation, then real property taxes go up with the square of inflation. He asserted this would ultimately lead to property taxes reaching full market value.
The Town Clerk asked for a moment of the board’s time. She asked how many members of the board reviewed the budget sheets submitted by the department heads. Supervisor Selmser was the only one to raise his hand. She is sorry the board members didn’t review the sheets. The department heads put their thoughts on the sheets for what they needed to do the job or thought they should get as fair compensation. The clerk’s office hours were reduced resulting in the loss of nearly $1,000.00 in revenue. My thoughts for the salary for the town clerk are based on records kept over the past few months. Hours worked are 30 to 46 hours a week. Using those figures the clerk gave projected salaries based on rate and hours.
At $30 per hour for 35 hrs. a week for 52 weeks the salary would be $54,600.00 a year
At $30 per hour for 30 hrs. a week for 52 weeks the salary would be $46,800.00 a year
If the rate is cut to $25.00 per hour the following is requested
At $25 per hour for 35 hrs. a week for 52 weeks the salary would be $45,500.00 a year.
The bottom line sale price to night with hours 6 days a week January to April the clerk asked for
$25 per hour for 30 hrs. a week for 52 weeks the salary would be $39,000.00 a year.
The clerk salary is currently $33,000.00. I am just asking for that small increase. As the tax collector and town clerk a 3% raise is not given for doing both jobs. This has gone on for years. The clerk works more than 30 hours a week. I am an asset to this board. I am asked to do secretarial work for the supervisor, I help everyone. I pipe up when we are going to be charged more for insurance. I have a lot of insight and give this assistance to this board. A $6,000.00 increase is not unwarranted. It was noted that not all clerks are tax collectors.
Supervisor Selmser stated Linda is a tremendous resource and does not hesitate to help in any way possible. In a lot of cases her help generates some savings
Council Member Long asked how many hours does the deputy clerk work. Ten hours per week. He stated the most efficient way to do this would be to have Judy the deputy work more or have additional assistance because her hourly rate is…. The clerk stated I am the experience behind the job. I review everything that goes on. I don’t want to train another person that would not be beneficial to the town and I am not willing to do that. If you don’t want my knowledge or experience by all means slight me again with my salary. $25.00 per hour at 30 hours a week I put in far more hours I have the proof.
Council Member Kirch asked what percent of an increase that represents. That is an 18% increase. The clerk asked what percent of an increase was going into the code department. The response was that was for an additional person. There will be 4 people in there now? No was the response they are changing one job. There will be a $20 rate going to a $30 per hour rate.
The clerk stated she would like to be compensated at $30 per hour. But would be happy with $25.00 per hour for 30 hours a week. It only seems fair to me. I have been getting the short end of the stick for a lot of years. The clerk stated the same increase is given to people who work part time. Some work 6 weeks or 20 weeks a year and get a 3% increase. People who are here day in and day out do not get a fair and equal salary.
Council Member Kirch explained the salary is so that they get an increase every year that’s how compensation works. What you are asking for is a reevaluation of your job. I have been asking for that as a 25 year employee who hasn’t been given fair and equal compensation for all of those years. Council Member Kirch stated; “in your opinion” you haven’t been compensated fairly. You knew what the compensation was when you ran for office.
In the meantime the clerk stated the board has appointed various officials and various positions and handed out money like it’s a rainbow. How do you justify part time employees making $30.00? Is their expertise such that they warrant that? Do I not warrant that?
Council Member Kirch stated a budget meeting is not a time to reevaluate somebody’s compensation. He suggested putting money in the budget to do an evaluation. The clerk explained there is no other time to do that for a salaried (elected) employee. You can’t change the salary in the middle of the year. The Supervisor stated the clerk was basing this on additional duties. The justification is written down. I have reduced my hours yet still come in on Thursday’s. I am a 24/7 employee. I get calls at home on the weekend from the Sheriff’s Dept. because of situations in town. Part time employees don’t have deal with that.
Council Member Long noted he is an elected employee too and not getting rich on his council member salary. Every one of them puts in a lot of time.
When the supervisor asks me a question and his secretary is not there I research out the answer and follow through.
Council Member Manning stated a raise on this level went to the voters in 2016 and was defeated. The clerk responded it was because of the lies and propaganda that were out there. He didn’t think he could go to the voters and do something different now. The clerk stated she chose not to fight a dirty fight and drag this town though the mud. Sorry Jeremy.
Council Member Kirch asked what other stipends the clerk received. $2,000 as clerk for the highway superintendent and $750 as registrar. He wanted to know the total compensations.
Council Member Glenn asked who had access to the budget sheets. They were at the meeting last week. The budget director had them with her tonight. When she did the budget she highlighted the salaries and put them in as requested. The board did see the requests.
The clerk thanked the board for their time.
The supervisor noted there were no future meetings schedule on the budget. If the board wanted to make changes or discuss additionally budget issues they could. Then they could formally set a date for a public hearing with the necessary information.
Council Member Kirch will gather some information on a consultant who did evaluations for Johnstown compensation. He thought the cost would be $2,000.00 to $5,000.00 for an outside company to come in and reevaluate the clerk position.
Supervisor Selmser thought that would be a waste of time. He would rather spend $2,000.00 and give it to Linda. The clerk thanked him.
Council Member Kirch stated if anybody else got a significant increase it would be based on a study that said they are currently under paid. He suggested doing the highway superintendent job, the code office and that will cost a lot more.
The Clerk didn’t want to waste the taxpayer’s money. The board is elected to make decisions.
Council Member Glenn stated if the clerk thought the compensation was unfair he agreed with Kent that the entire employee’s positions should be done. That could be a huge financial…
Council Member Kirch didn’t think it was a waste of money. It is an investment in making sure the position is fairly paid. There is no basis for it other than the clerk saying she doesn’t get paid enough. If you want to make a good decision you get a third party that is independent that specializes in this.
The clerk didn’t want to spend the taxpayer’s money. Council Member Kirch stated he wouldn’t give an employee a $6,000. 00 raise, he wouldn’t do that to the taxpayers.
The clerk responded you gave an employee a $7,000.00 raise. The Supervisor stated $15,000.00. The clerk stated the position of weed coordinator went from $9,000 to $16,000 this year. Council Member Kirch stated that was based on other positions in the town that are similar in nature. The weed coordinator salary was compared to the BTI Director by Council Member Kirch. The clerk responded yes once again a part timer was again the magical rainbow.
The board decided to look into the matter of a study. The board would need the information back with a quick turnaround. Council Member Kirch suggested putting additional money in the budget. Council Member Manning wanted to get a verbal quote. He thought it would be nice to be able to say here is our proof. It might be worth it. Council Member Glenn suggested doing all the departments next year.
Page 9 Trail – Council Member Manning handed out a sheet on the Wheelerville Trails Budget for 2020, 2021.
2020 Contractual (materials) - $9,595.00
2020 Personal Services (labor) - $39,199.94
2020 NYS Reimbursement - $48,794.94 The budget director rounded it up to $49,000.00
2021 Contractual - $3511.00
2021 Personal Services - $12,062.00
2021 NYS Reimbursement $15,573.00
2020 Match - $9,416.16 (volunteers 24h/week @ $30.18/h)
2021 Match - $2897.28
Total Project Cost $76,681.00
Grant Amount $64,367.56
Council Member Manning explained the grant is split over two years. The difference in the total project cost and the grant amount is the in kind volunteer time. It was noted you have three years to use the funds.
Council Member Kirch asked if there was any impact on the budget. The budget director stated there is. It just changes the appropriation total. There will be personnel that we are paying. Council Member Manning stated a lead trail building is paid $30.00 per hour. The budget director stated the recreation trail is A7145.4 that is just contractual so the personal services line item will need to be added as $40,000.00. The total will remain the same.
Supervisor Selmser stated now we are done with the budget. He had one other item - to make a minor change in the bonding for the plow truck. The rates we approved previously were quoted for 30 days and that has expired. The new rates are slightly lower. We had resolution 2019-082
it was approved for the issuance of a serial bond to NBT Bank at 2.7%. The new bonding will be at 2.6%. The prior interest was $5939.00 the new interest will be $5719.95.
Council Member Kirch asked why this couldn’t wait until the meeting next week. The supervisor is trying to set up a closing date. He will be unavailable after the 22nd of October. The board will wait until the regular meeting on this.
The supervisor noted Jeff Prince will get possession of the truck on Oct. 17th, it will be one or two days for them to do a few things on it. We should have it the 22nd or 23rd.
At 8:21 pm Council Member Long made a motion to adjourn. The motion was seconded by Council Members Glenn and Kirch. All board members were in favor of the motion.
Linda M. Gilbert, RMC, CMC
Caroga Town Clerk
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