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State of New York
County of Fulton
Town of Caroga
Minutes of a Caroga Town Board meeting held Friday October 16, 2020 at the municipal building located at 1840 State Highway #10 at 9:05 am with the following persons in attendance by roll call:
Supervisor Scott Horton - Here
Council Member John Glenn - Here
Council Member James Long - Here
Council Member Richard Sturgess - Here
Council Member Donald Travis - Here
Supervisor Horton, Council Members Glenn, Sturgess, and Travis were in the meeting room, Council Member Long was accessing the meeting remotely. Also in attendance were Town Justice James Subik, Gene Centi – Weed Harvesting Coordinator and Parks, Lakes, Recreation, and Tourism Chairman, Mike Voght Planning Board Member and highway employee, Joanne Young – Bookkeeper and Budget Director and Highway Superintendent – Larry Voght. There was one member of the public in attendance. There were 12 members of the public signed in using ZOOM.
The budget sheets today were updated from the meeting on the October 5th. Since the last meeting there has been a town board meeting with a lot of participation. The Supervisor received numerous emails, and text messages. Council Member Glenn stated that the public was majority misinformed by a member of the town board. Council Member Long took issue with that strongly. The Supervisor stated his plans were ambitious. The public does not share the supervisor’s ambition 100%. He did not want to make a mistake of the past where the town board ignores what the public has to say. The whole idea behind the salary increases for elected officials was in a small town only a certain number of people qualify to run for office and have the time to do it. His thought was to make it more attractive. One of the reasons the board was offered health insurance was to attract them to service. We are in difficult times and people have concerns. The Supervisor stated that he is happy to remove any salary increase he put in for the Supervisors position. The total impact of the salary increases was $18,941.00. The Supervisor suggested and recommended that the town board does not take a pay increase. He wanted to hold firm with the highway superintendent at the $50,000.00. The supervisor did not like to talk in percentages. Council Member Long stated the point has been made. The Town Clerk salary has been an issue for a long time. Regular employees were put in for a 2% across the board raise.
Council Member Glenn stated when the Supervisor came up with the budget it was nothing more than a Christmas wish list. This is negotiable. He thought the board should balance the budget and any additional money should come directly on to the salaries.
Joanne Young – Budget Officer stated the $18,981.00 in salary increases equaled out to $0.12 per thousand in the budget. She asked the board what they wanted at the end. What do they want to spend how much of the fund balance are you willing to use to raise in taxes? Every line item of this budget is negotiable at this point.
Council Member Long sent an email to the Supervisor yesterday asking if the barebones budget the Supervisor emailed him whether he wanted that public. “Sending that to me made it public.” He did not receive a response back from the Supervisor. He deferred putting it on line. Council Member Glenn stated as a board member he did not receive that email. Council Member Long then stated “so I put that on line.” The goal he thought should be to stay within the tax cap as recommended by Comptroller DiNapoli which includes a 1.56% CPI-U increase and recognizes the very minuscule increase in our total assessment. He did not want to touch the fund balance any more than they had to, and not exceeding the tax cap if we possibly can. That would mean keeping the elected officials salary constant. From there cut where we have to cut.
Supervisor Horton noted he had a one-hour conversation yesterday with Council Member Long primarily about the budget. The Supervisor sent Council Member Long a budget that he took a cleaver to, to show him what the impact would be, to do what you have stated. That is not a public document. It was a conversation between two board members.
Council Member Long was going to work on incorporating the second page of the budget document so it would be live and tied into the first page. Council Member Long did exactly that but he was not clear as to which numbers he should be using. He thought the public should hear this.
Council Member Glenn agreed this should be public information. It should have been information before this meeting. It has been online Council Member Long stated. He wanted to explain how he was doing this spreadsheet.
Supervisor Horton stated there is only one official budget spreadsheet. It is the one modified by the October 5 meeting that the Budget Officer put together, that the board and public have in front of them. We cannot do one line item see how it effects the total appropriations and keep going back and forth between fund balance and allocations and taxes. Council Member Long agreed.
The Supervisor stated the public can weigh in when there is the public hearing on the budget.
Council Member Long appreciated the clarification as to which spread sheet we were starting from.
The clerk asked for clarification. The Supervisor sent a document to Council Member Long and he posted your interoffice memo? Like a working document? Supervisor Horton asked Council Member Long if he posted it. The Supervisor was not aware of it being posted. Council Member Long asked for permission… Council Member Glenn asked if he posted it or did he not post it? He demanded an answer. Council Member Long stated he could look on the web yourself and stated it’s not present.
The Supervisor sent the document to Council Member Long to make a point. Someone in attendance looked online and found the document. Council Member Glenn stated that is illegal. He thought this should be reported to the ethics board. Council Member Long again stated it was not online. The Supervisor stated his point was taken. Council Member Long stated Council Member Glenn discloses executive session legal matters to the public. (Gavel in use) Off subject.
Council Member Sturgess stated when he first ran for office to be 100% honest he did not even realize it was a paid position. Then when you are in the job and you justify the amount of work associated with it. At least it is something. In his honest opinion a person at the previous board meeting stated it would be an excellent idea to put pay raises in for future boards future generation. He was not looking for a raise. It is time to start making this position more inevitable to other people. The Supervisor is 40 hours a week in the office for …. It’s a joke. Someone in the future may not be able to afford to run for the position because of the salary. If you want someone in the position who can do the job – One good supervisor could save $100,000 in interest just by knowing the banking system. It is important to pay a proper wage. He stated the Highway Superintendent is justifying his pay check by saving the town money.
Supervisor Horton is asking the people who work for the public to share in the burden. He stated elected officials are different. We choose to work. Those who are working for us are employees. He did not want to invite CSEA in and then have to deal with something much more costly for the town. He is suggesting pulling back but it cannot be a permanent way of doing town business.
Mrs. Holliday thought it was commendable that the Town Board would not take a raise. She did not want the Town Clerk’s increase to be cut. She does so many things in that office and the town could not run without her. The taxes are a big burden. She has been fighting for years for a decent wage and she has never gotten it. Council Member Glenn noted we are only talking about the board now.
Supervisor Horton thanked the public for their input.
The board began on page one.
A1010.1 set at $12,175.00
A1010.4 set at $1,200.00
The Budget Officer stated the board has already gone over these line by line last time. She wanted take up where we left off before. Once the board has gone though and talked about the revenue side then we can come back to the line items the board may want to look at later.
Council Member Long stated what the Budget Officer is saying makes sense but there have been enough changes as a result of public pressure and they are trying to follow along linearly through this spreadsheet using only audio connections try to follow along.
Supervisor Horton understood his position but noted we have to notify the State Comptroller if we are planning to go over the tax cap.
Joanne Young Budget Officer noted every other employee asked for 2%. Council Member Long stated the board and elected official don’t need a cost of living.
A1110.1 Justice was set at $16,285.00
The Budget Officer stated if you are going to do it across the board you are either going to do 2% for everybody or just say it’s out for everyone. Council Member Long stated we can do it differently for the elected official. Council Member Sturgess thought there should be a cost of living raise across the board. He did not want to see raises to the board. Cost of living goes up regardless. The board discussed if all elected or if just town board members would keep the same compensation year over year. The public comments were not in favor of raises for elected officials. He thought they meant on the legislative side. Council Member Long could not know the minds of all people who are writing. His general sense was they wanted this frozen.
The Budget Officer could come up with the number of what it would be for each to have a cost of living adjustment per salary and see what that would be. Or she could do it as a zero and as said in the beginning, the total cost of the raises was $18,981.00 overall and that would be a reduction. Council Member Glenn noted that is where we started the meeting.
Council Member Sturgess stated the cost of living does not go down. In his opinion it does not matter if they are an elected official or a hired employee. The cost of living goes up the same for every single person. A 2 x 4 went from $2.85 to $8.00. Everybody should have cost of living raise. He just didn’t want the raise for the board.
The Supervisor asked that just the legislative personal services increase be removed and leave the 2% across the board for everybody else plus we will keep the larger increase for the Town Clerk and the larger increase for the highway superintendent in there.
Council Member Long advocated for the 1.56% instead of 2 per Comptroller DiNapoli.
Supervisor Horton again asked that we just give 2%. We know what the comptroller uses from CPI index is not rated to what the average person’s cost of living goes up.
Council Member Glenn stated if we do 2% now and do our math at the end of the day if that does not balance our budget we can go back and revisit.
The Budget Officer spoke to the Supervisor this morning on this. The town has purchased services for a personnel study. She thought part of that was to determine what the salaries should be. Those numbers it doesn’t seem will be coming back for this year’s budget. Should we continue on with this or do it for next year’s budget. The town purchased $4,500 of services.
The Supervisor stated if we get the information in December it can be used and show the public for next year’s budget. He didn’t think they could wait. Her point was well taken.
Page 9 A7145.1 Wheelerville Trails. Part of the personal services on this are going to be a carryover. The Budget Officer is looking at $10,000 to $12,000 depending on how many more hours Jeremy and the team keep working. She did not know when they were going to stop working. To be conservative the Supervisor suggested using $10,000. We get reimbursed through the grant. For the equipment it is a different number as the YTD is from 9/15/20. It will be close to spending the $12,650. For this year. There really won’t be a rollover for C/E. So only $10,000 will be coming back for next year’s project. Of the .1 line item of $30,000 - $20,000 is new money to come out of the budget and the $15,000 all of that too.
The Supervisor enters into a discussion with Mrs. Holliday. She thought the trail was not going to cost the town any money. The Supervisor explained this was for a continuation of the project.
When they started this the money was to come from the State. That is true, Supervisor Horton responded. The part funded by the grant is just about finished. The Supervisor is proposing continuing this program because there has been a lot of interest. Two things the town should be promoting are the golf course and the bike trail. It was noted the trail is for hiking also. It should be made known, Mrs. Holliday stated.
Mr. Centi asked if we exhausted all of the grant money. The Budget Officer stated she is expecting a $10,000 surplus for next year. So the $20,000 on this budget is non grant money. He asked if that was for the existing trail or for an expansion. That was for an expansion Supervisor Horton replied. Mr. Centi asked if the original resolution involved expansions to this trail or for this trail only. Supervisor Horton was not on the board at the time but the original resolution were for just that trail/ lot and parcel. There would be a trail system built for $64,000.00 with grant funding that was reimbursable and some in kind services which we have. Material that was donated. In kind has been met. Mr. Manning was also successful in getting vendors to donation in an amount over $2,000.00. The trails are some of the best that are out there. The Supervisor is proposing continuing this effort by approving the line item. Expanding it would only further the goals of what the original trail is all about. Mr. Centi asked if there shouldn’t be another resolution to expand this trail and incorporate monies too.
The Clerk had to review information for Attorney Ferlazzo on the Wheelerville Bike Trail. She stated the proposal put forth was in several phases. Certain completions should be done, signage was one of them, control of the pathways, were all part of phase one. Shouldn’t phase one be completed before we do an expansion. She also noted that limitations would be decided upon by the public as to where there is access. One reference in the document stated the trail would be closed at the end of October. That was for the board to decide back in 2018.
Supervisor Horton noted we are looking now at the budget. The Clerk stated funding, but there are multiple phases. To Mr. Centi’s point, yes we should have a second resolution that would detail where we want to expand it. The Supervisor is suggesting putting money in the budget and then decide to go forward or not go forward. He is strongly in favor of going forward. Council Member Long agreed. Mr. Centi stated he is very, very pro cultural, and recreational of everything going on in this town.
Mr. Centi asked for an explanation of line item A7145.4 and asked if there was any compensation for anyone involved in the trail in any form included in the budget. The Supervisor explained the $15,000 was for the rental of equipment, fuel, anything contractual expense.
The Highway Superintendent asked how his department got their money for the 200 - 300 gallons of fuel, man hours and equipment used on the trail. The Supervisor responded you don’t. It is part of the in kind contribution from the town. The Supervisor has suggested that $10,000.00
Council Member Sturgess wondered why the Highway Department has to supply fuel for every organization in this town. The Supervisor noted the grant requires 20% of matching funds. The Budget Director stated she is helping to fill out the paperwork to the state. We have to document the any type of match either through labor/volunteers. Dirt has been donated and Mr. Manning has gotten some other donations. We have to document it. We are saying the town has donated the gas or time or use of equipment. There was not a total of how much the town has contributed at this time. It will come out of the highway budget. The Supervisor noted some of the materials we had on hand that cost us nothing but it has value.
Council Member Sturgess asked if there was any justification of who is working on the bike path, who is checking in the time that people arrive and what time they leave or are we just taking the word from one person handing in a time sheet at the end of the day. Now that we are funding it, it is coming out of pocket. If we decide to do this where is our checks and balances? This may not be the right meeting for this but are we going to have this in place before we decide to throw this money out there? Council Member Glenn agreed 100% with Council Member Sturgess. He thought this should be brought up in another open session.
Supervisor Horton stated inadvertently we paid the trail manager with health insurance. He didn’t think it was a good way to do it. It was a bad decision. If you make a bad decision you don’t have to repeat it. In his discussions with Mr. Manning he wanted $20,000 to be managing the trails next year. The Supervisor said he would support $10,000 and bring it to the board. To Council Member Sturgess point we are going to have to…. We need the oversight. Council Member Sturgess suggested the PLRT oversee it. The Supervisor thought it would morph into PLRT. The construction is not something the PLRT should be involved in. The Supervisor wanted direct reports as he has construction experience.
Council Member Travis noted when they had a meeting with Mr. Manning a week or so ago. They discussed giving him the salary. They were going off him purchasing his insurance from that salary. He is not getting $10,000. He should not have received insurance from the town because he is not an employee of the town. “So we made him an employee of the town paid him and now he has to buy his insurance. Supervisor Horton stated it was more cost effective.
Line Item A7145.1 was put at $55,000 – $10,000 is grant money and $45,000 is new to fund the program continuing on. Depending on board resolution. This was circled by Council Member Glenn as a place to cut if needed.
Special Recreation Facilities line item A7180.1 is golf course. The Supervisor noted this is a work in progress. The golf course committee – Gene Centi, Supervisor Horton and Council Member Sturgess discovered earlier this year there was a lot more potential for revenue to the town using the golf course facilities. They have been gathering information and will come to the board at some point in time that will bring in more revenues and make a nicer facility and save the tax payers money. Right now the numbers were left where they were. They will bring forth a plan.
Council Member Sturgess noted the golf course makes us money. Council Member Glenn noted three mowers were purchased last year. Some small equipment may need to be purchased in 2021.
Mr. Centi noted the aerator machine was not working. A replacement would have cost $40,000 - $50,000. Someone local looked at the machine and fixed it for less than $100.00. This year it was hired out. Council Member Glenn put a question mark on A7180.2. He stated if there is a shortfall at the end of this we are going to have to slash.
Youth Services - A7310.1 would be for someone to be a director of some sort of activities during the summer. Mr. Centi stated he was trying to get this under one category. The state has budget codes the town has to follow. Mr. Centi stated everybody knows that “we had a reduction in the youth program because Wheelerville was not going to participate.” The idea of the PLRT was to have some sort of programs during the summer on an ongoing basis. It was noted that last year there were 40 – 60 kids. The problem Mr. Centi is finding is no matter what you do as far as a youth program there is certain criteria with the Dept. of Health. If the program is held at a swimming area you have to an aquatics director. Like when it was held at the campground. Certain requirements are needed if it is a scheduled, repeated program. Some other plan may need to be developed – a family program. Mr. Centi explained the Celebrations line item is for those things that are town-wide events – the outhouse races, and the parade. Line item A7550.4 was increased by $14,000 from last year. They spend money on new flag holders and some flags. The flags are in bad shape. This is a first time for the PLRT. They may purchase a large screen and put it out on the green for movie night. They may have music on the green next year. These events would not cost the residents. Council Member Sturgess asked if people would have to pay to participate in events like the outhouse race. Will this produce revenue? The commission decided they would not charge a fee for the races. There will be car races on the lake too. It costs to have a band. Council Member Glenn It was stated that the lines numbers cannot be combined. Celebrations added a sub category named PLRT C/E A7550.4.
Mrs. Holliday checked on the Nick Stoner Seniors line item with the Supervisor. They can have one bus trip with the money in the line item.
Page 11 line item A8010.1 Zoning was reduced by $500 this year. Planning remained the same amount this year. Environmental Control. Council Member Glenn noted there is a three year grant. The A8090.1 and A8090.11 stated the same as the previous year. It was noted the payroll was through Paul Smiths College. We don’t know if they will cover the boat launch next year.
Supervisor Horton stated there were 6 boats that were discovered to have invasives on them. He didn’t understand if the town was going to be spending the $14,500 again next year? The Budget Officer Joanne Young stated, if we did the same thing that we did this year, no. But if we look back to 2018 the town had to fund all of the personnel at the boat launch. You have to add in the new minimum wage. Mr. Centi thought they were going to look at reducing the number of hours of the stewards and cross train them to be used at various locations. In August Paul Smiths pulled the funding. Also it was talked about reducing the number of days the boat wash station was open.
Council Member Long stated the notion of cross training and moving people around was not practice for the West Lake Launch as those young folks walk there. Mr. Centi stated these recommendations were brought up by Mr. Olm and Mr. Harazin.
Council Member Sturgess stated six (6) boats were found with invasive species out of over six thousand inspections. Council Member Glenn stated .1%. Council Member Sturgess stated that is a staggering number given the money that is vested in this program. The hours can definitely get cut in that program to an extent. The board should get in touch with the director and see what the plans are for reduced hours and cross training and them come back.
Council Member Sturgess noted at every meeting Mr. Centi states; weed harvesting is getting better and better, and he is finding less weeds this year than the prior year. Does that mean the payroll can be cut down in that? Mr. Centi responded they have the weed crew was reduced by two. His plan is not to have a tender on the boat next year. It will be staffed by divers.
In all due respect Council Member Sturgess stated we don’t know the number of boats going into the lake that are not being checked. They are not checked at the association. Council Member
Glenn stated Marcus Harazin created a letter to send out to people we know are launching boats across their personal property. It was discussed to train the beach attendants at the association and have them inspect. Supervisor Horton asked to get back to the budget. Council Member Sturgess noted the need to have a work session meeting.
Weed Equipment line item A8090.2 was increased in the budget to $9,400.00. The decking has to be replaced as marine lumber was not used before. It is $110.00 a sheet. If not this year then next. The compressor has to be rebuilt at a cost of $1,000. The suction hoses need to be replaced at a cost of $3,000. A8090.2 was reduced to $6,000.00. Line item A8090.4 was reduced to $2,000. A8090.4 was $749.65 year to date. They wanted to order more signs this year but didn’t. The line item was reduced to $2,000. The Highway Superintendent noted signs can be purchased through Montgomery County.
Refuse and Garbage the only change was Landfill Testing A8160.41 was reduced to $3,500.
Supervisor Horton and the board have requested annual testing instead of quarterly.
Fish and Game A8720.4 is for stocking lakes. Mr. Centi has heard people say if one is getting funding to stock why others can’t. From now on it will be a coordinated effort as to what fish are put in the lakes. Council Member Sturgess wanted more money on the line item. Supervisor Horton stated there are two issues. Should the town stock the lakes? How much money do we want to spend into stocking our own lakes and does only one group get money. The town could do it by resolution as to who gets the money. A DEC biologist would be consulted. Maybe PLRT should coordinate this with the lake associations. There should be a representative of each lake association. Line Item A8720.4 was set at $1,500.00. A sub category of Fish Stocking/PLRT was added.
Cemeteries A8810.4 remained at $300.00
Community Services left the same.
Undistributed remained the same, with one exception Unemployment Insurance A9050.8 was reduced to $2,000. Supervisor Horton noted the Golf Course Unemployment is being worked on. They will be challenging every questionable unemployment claim.
Mr. Centi asked who is covered on the Golf Course Health Insurance. Mr. Jennings has his spouse on the plan. Since it was brought up Supervisor Horton discussed his concern on that. The committee will be looking at the line item.
Transfers - The Budget Director Joanne Young stated it is just a matter of basically they are done at the end of the year if there is money available. She noted the different reserves that have been funded. The Capitol Fund A9950.9 is for any building within the town. The Weed Harvester Reserve A9950.91 and the garbage Truck A9950.92. Next year the board has to decide what they are adding to. The Budget Officer leaves the meeting to get balances on the reserve funds.
A9950.91 has $55,000 in it. Supervisor Horton stated maybe we should use those funds instead of the budget.
The Capitol Reserve fund has $65,000. This does not include the $20,000 budgeted this year. None of the reserves have been funded this year. You do not have to fund it. Council Member Glenn checked this line item to come back to at the end of the day to balance.
The Budget Officer stated the Garbage Truck A9950.92 has $20,000 in it currently. That truck is 3 – 4 years old. The Highway Superintendent stated the life expectancy is 7 years that is pushing it. A Cab and packer costs $180,000 now. Council Member Sturgess noted in 3 – 5 years the cost will be $200,000. WE will need to find another $175,000 in the next 3 to 5 years.
Supervisor Horton noted there are big numbers in here we have to explain to the public. If we do this, this is what happens. If we don’t do this, this is what is going to happen.
Going back Mr. Centi would like to do some of the Contractual expenses out of the reserve fund for the Weed Harvester. The Budget Director believed the Town Board would have to make a resolution to access the funds. Line item A8090.2 was placed at $2,000.00.
Revenue – Line item A1001 as a place holder the Supervisor put in $300,000.00 on the line item.
Council Member Long was asked if he was putting in the numbers live (in his spreadsheet). “Yes,” was his response? Right now if we do not draw from fund balance Line A1001 would be at $495,944. If he has entered everything correctly. He is computing based on not drawing anything out of the fund balance. The Supervisor wondered where we were today before we started under the Appropriations were $1,456,964. Council Member Long stated we are at $1,423,344.
1120. Sales Tax Supervisor Horton put $600,000.00 on there. It is a guess. The 2020 3rd quarter sales tax went up 9.5 %. The previous quarter the sales tax was down year over year. We are very close to what we have budgeted for 2020. Council Member Long believed the reduction of the line item to be reasonably consistent with the projects with the State Comptroller DiNapoli.
Cable Franchise A1177 – the contract still has to be negotiated.
The Departmental Income lines were reviewed. Supervisor Horton stated the golf course has done very well this year.
Council Member Sturgess asked what A2410 Rental of Real property was. That is the rent from Nathan Littauer Hospital. The contract will change with them on May 1st 2021.
At the beginning of the year Supervisor Horton getting CD’s that would earn the town more interest.
Rental of Equipment A2416 is the rental of the Garbage Truck to Bleecker. The words (Garbage Truck) to be added.
Licenses and permits – Supervisor Horton is anticipating building permits to increase. He was conservative at $15,000 on line item A2555. Council Member Sturgess noted a lot of people did renovations this year who knows if they will do them next year or not. Revenues stay the same as 2020.
The A2610 Fines and Forfeitures line item was put at $10,000. The Budget Director noted the courts are picking up. They were closed from March until August. Council Member Sturgess questioned the amount we receive. The Budget Director noted the judicial branch is separate. The town can only address fines for town local laws. The state has mandates and the state keeps part and the town gets part of it.
Supervisor Horton is going to ask the town board or the Planning Board to review building permits fines fees to see if there is an opportunity there. He does not want to gouge the taxpayers. A lot of money has been spent in the code office – “long overdue.” The budget is not being offset by any increase in the cost to run the office. Council Member Long supports what the supervisor said. Perhaps Council Member Long can help with this.
Supervisor Horton moved on the State Aid – Mortgage Tax and Steward Grant is a multiyear program. The same money was put in as this year. State aid may be down a little bit.
Other – A4889 Culture & recreation grant line item was put at $12,000. The Budget Officer suggested putting it down to $10,000. The Board agreed.
It is 11 am and the Supervisor wanted to take up the highway at another session. The Budget Officer noted the board has already gone over the highway line items last time when Larry was in attendance.
The board moved to page 19. The Total Non Property Tax Items placeholder was put in at $650,000.00 for revenue. DA2300 Services for Other Governments the line item is $28,500. Interested and Earnings DA2401 was increased to $600. Sales of Equipment the Highway Department has some tires to sell and some equipment DA2665 was placed at $5,000. Mr. Voght stated that would probably be close.
The Supervisor wanted to explain to the public Other Sources DA3501 Consolidated Highway Aid (e) CHIPS funds (Council Member Long noted a spelling error Aid will be corrected. Supervisor Horton is expecting a hit from the state. They are only going to reimburse 80% of CHIPS Money. The State has not mentioned Emergency Disaster Aid or Federal Aid -Emergency Disaster so the line items were zeroed out. The expenses for CHIPS were $77,030
But only shown revenues of $61,600.That is the 80% they will reimburse in the future. The Supervisor thinks this will continue for future years. If you spend less you will get less work done. Highway Superintendent Voght stated there is no more rollover. If we didn’t use it this year the money would have been gone for good.
Council Member Sturgess the town has to take on a project that potentially go over the CHIPS funding and it will be an expense every year. The town could may have to do only ½ a road. There is a road or two to work on.
The Clerk noted that the line item DA3501 amended budget did not list the state aid received by the town for 2020. The Budget Officer saw that and will make that adjustment. The Amended Budget DA3501 should be $143,350. The clerk asked if the election sheets were added together. The Budget Office noted the total was correctly listed.
Council Member Long had some live numbers for the board. He stated the highway revenue was $945,700. If no fund balance is pulled out the levy in general would be four hundred and ninety seven thousand and change. Highway would be $850,000. Fire would be $142,000 for a total of $1,490,000. That is $537,000 over the tax cap. That is a rate going from our present $5.96 per thousand up to $9.59 per $1000 assessed value. To avoid the tax cap the town would have to pull out $ 537,000 out of the fund balance which is virtually all of it.
Supervisor Horton stated it doesn’t do any good in rehashing the past. He wants to look to the future and figure out some way…. He wanted to turn things around in three years. This may take 7 – 10 years. The capitol programs the Supervisor is looking at are gone. They are not on the table anymore. Part of it is COVID part of it has been the town piggy bank/fund balance for years and years trying to prevent telling the taxpayers we are spending more than we should be. And that they should be paying more for the services they are receiving. No one wanted to do that. Instead money was taken out of the bank. The fund balance comes from unexpected revenues or from making a budget that is so fat/fluffy that there is money left over. Supervisor Horton thought you should budget on the conservative side. If you have too much money left over you have overtaxed the citizens. The Supervisor recognized the (general) financial problem while campaigning. He did not see the problem on the highway fund side. Last year the highway took $100,000.00 from sales tax revenue. That is when the adjustment should have been made in his opinion. Now we need solutions.
Council Member Long stated he gave totals. If you go by the A account would need to go up to $3.21 a 221% increase. The DA account increase is going from $4.07 to $5.48 which is a 34% increase. The Supervisor stated both totals are horrible.
Council Member Sturgess asked how do you get a taxpayer to understand that expenses just go up. Supervisor Horton talked about how federal and state government waste money. He talked about his experience in local government from 20 years ago. He stated the town is not wasteful.
Supervisor Horton stated he is happy that people are engaged in the budget process. The taxpayers needs to know exactly what the numbers are. There is only about $58,000 in fund balance in highway. It may go up because of the money Larry has saved this year. The fund balance in the general fund is much larger. Council Member Sturgess noted the year end numbers on the golf course are not in yet. It is up this year. The Budget Officer noted the board has to consider the amount still owed to Mr. Jennings. It will be up from the projected $135,000.
Supervisor Horton noted the gross revenue was up 14.8%. We have to look at the gross expenses. This is just the beginning of how successful the course can be.
Supervisor Horton asked if anyone on the board thought enough could be cut in either department to be below the tax cap.
Joanne Young Budget Officer wanted to get the board some numbers. To stay under the tax cap the board is able to raise $28,000 more than our current budget. However, you do it across either General, Highway or Fire. It will maintain under the state tax cap. The tax rate would go from $5.96 to $6.12 that is staying under the tax cap. At least one cent is needed for the fire contract for the increase in the contract. Joanne stated if you put up to $4.20 in the highway you would be going from $631,429 which is the tax rate this year. It would only bring us up to an additional $653,219. You would still be looking at spending about $151,000 of fund balance for the highway. There will be some roll over and there is about $58,000 in there. Maybe we are going to plan to say we have maybe $85,000 at least in unassigned fund balance for next year. There is a still a short fall. There is a possible override even if you are just looking at fund balance to balance the highway account. The board has to decide ye you are going forward with the public comment and try to override the budget and then we work with those numbers or the board can decided that they do not want to override the budget the completely changes how we have to look at the… and what we have to cut. The Supervisor stated that is confusing.
Council Member Long stated that he is coming from the stand point if we didn’t use fund balance how much would we be over the tax cap. If we increase taxes exactly to the tax cap we are $137,000 over the tax cap. But we have fund balance roughly $600,000 in the General account and minimal in the DA account. A transfer is necessary from general to highway. Council member Long made the claim that the town could do this budget without busting the tax cap but we would be depleting the fund balance. He did not think the board had to pass legislation to exceed the tax cap.
Supervisor Horton entertained that concept for 15 seconds and then wanted Council Member Long to think about what the town does in 2022 with no money. What Council Member Long says is true. The board does not have to raise taxes this year however in the future hold on to your seats. Council Member Long agreed there would be a problem in 2022. He thought there was more work to be done on the A account. He was asked where he would cut. Salary adjustments was his response. That would equal $12,000. Where else could be cut the supervisor asked. It is going to be tough.
Council Member Glenn noted the disaster in the Fonda Fultonville School district 8 – 10 years ago. Taxes were increased by 24%. Last year Johnstown School district had a similar problem.
Council Member Sturgess stated people can adjust little by little.
Council Member Long stated to balance the budget right now we would need a 60.93% tax increase.
The next budget meeting was called for Wednesday October 21st at 9:30 am.
The Budget Officer asked if the board is looking at going over the tax cap or are there more areas to cut?
Supervisor Horton reiterated to meet the criteria we would have to basically have to spend every penny we have that is not reserve. Council Member Long stated he was close. He was looking at $537,000 combined accounts. It is almost every penny Supervisor Horton replied.
The Supervisor wanted the updated budget soon. The Budget Director noted there is not much of a change. If 2% across the board was put in it would equal $3,682.00. Supervisor Horton clarified was the 2% put in for elected officials. “I did,” was the response not for the legislative but everybody else. 2% across the board. What about Clerk and Highway? Those would have to be added in.
The Supervisor stated this was not that helpful. He wanted to see the first page.
Council Member Long computed what the revenues have to be instead of guessing.
Supervisor Horton discussed appropriations and revenues with the Budget Officer. The A (general) is $1,423,000 revenue did not change $925,400.00. Calculations continued. The supervisor did not know if the cleaver was big enough to cut another $100,000 out of the budget. Supervisor Horton thought we should be saying now that the State Comptroller should be contacted that we are looking to override the tax cap. The Budget Officer asked “how much are you wanting to raise the taxes.” The numbers are easily adjustable but it depends on next year too. It is a partial thing this year and a partial increase next year, and so on. This has to be done in dollar and cents the Supervisor noted. The Budget Officer needed an idea on how much the board wanted the tax rate to go up. A spread sheet could be made to show various percentage increases with so much money being taken out of the fund balance.
Council Member Sturgess stated it is crystal clear that taxes are going to go up a little bit. We haven’t talked about what we can cut yet. Let’s get to the next meeting and see where we can slim off of his.
Supervisor Horton noted you are only going to get big numbers by going after big items in the budget. The big items are reserve funds that we are putting away for the future, or cutting salaries and laying people off. Council Member Sturgess thought that was something we need to talk about too at some point in time.
Council Member Long thought as a COVID-19 Emergency reducing funding of reserve funds is reasonable/rational.
The Supervisor wanted to hear back from the public.
Mr. Centi asked for clarification about reserve funds/dedicated funds and cannot be touched except for what they are reserved for. The Budget Officer stated a board resolution is necessary to use the money and it has to be used for the reason the fund was set up. Mr. Centi stated the $55,000 in the Weed harvester reserve is more than adequate than what he would need if something drastic happened. The Supervisor noted he could not touch the money in reserve for the Garbage truck. The board is looking to put $55,000 in reserve for 2021 right now. We could say we aren’t going to reserve anything this year.
Mr. Voght asked about the Gradall. The Budget Officer noted there is an equipment reserve fund for highway. The Gradall is tired and costing the town money.
Council Member Long stated the line items in question are A9950.9 and A9950.92 zeroing them out for this year.
The Budget Officer stated the one thing we do have going for us is the town has not funded the reserve this year. The board can still put in the amount of money put in this year’s budget and zero out putting in money for next year. There is $20,000 on A9950.9 for this year. If you don’t need more money in the weed harvester there could be a budget adjustment and take the $15,000.00 and add it to the $10,000 for the garbage truck and do it off of this year’s budget. The transfers are not done until December to see whether or not we have the funds available.
Multiple discussions going on among board members.
Council Member Travis wondered about doing away with the weed program.
Council Member Long stated there was an audio problem. Everyone became garbled about a minute ago.
Supervisor Horton clarified we have not funded in our budget some reserve funds. We don’t have to use those. The budgeted amount for 2020 is $45,000.00. The money can be moved around based on priority. These funds can be used to offset the expenses for next year. Council Member Long was in agreement to zero out the two budget lines. The Supervisor asked about next year’s reserve funding for 2021 is Capital Fund $30,000 on A9950.9 and $25,000 on A9950.92 Garbage truck. So $55,000 could be taken from next year’s budget. Supervisor Horton stated if the board did both of those it would save $100,000.00. It does push things down the road.
Council Member Sturgess really thought the sales tax was under estimated. It was very conservative. He asked how detrimental would it be if the weed program took a year off. What would it do? Mr. Centi stated it would push the program back if it happened to be an abundant growth next year. Then you would have to work to catch up. This is the same situation that occurred on another lake when they tried a different method of weed control.
Council Member Long noted as the only one with limnology training here. He has to support what Mr. Centi said. It would put the ecology of that lake at risk. Council Members Sturgess and Travis noted it was just a thought. Supervisor Horton thought it was a parallel logic on what we know is going to be an expense down the road.
It was noted on the heavy highway equipment the price goes up a little bit every year.
Supervisor Horton stated there is $100,000 that the board could defer for two years to help cover a tax increase in the A account or DA account or both. Council Member Long stated it does not help the fund balance to declare that we are not going to spend it. We haven’t spent it. The Supervisor noted just like last year we have sales tax coming in. If the board agrees and we took $100,000 out of the sales tax to cover the highway department. Like we did last year...
That is appropriate Council Member Long stated. The Supervisor stated we are going to have to figure out what a reasonable amount of the fund balance we should use and then we will know what we need to raise taxes. It can be done that way. The Budget Officer stated the tax rate would go up from $4.07 up to $5.09 that would be an acceptable fund balance for what we have that is unassigned.
Supervisor Horton, the Budget Officer and Council Member Long did more calculations taking money out of the reserves for 2021. Council Member Long announced that we were $482,000 over the tax cap. After going through all of this we are essentially where we were before less the $30,000. More calculations are done. Supervisor Horton calculated a $0.19 reduction. Council Member Long summarized either we pull $482,000 out of the fund balance or we increase taxes by 55%. The Supervisor continues to do calculations. The A account would go from $1.00 to $1.36.9 a 36% increase. The Supervisor used $230,000 of fund balance. Council Member Long figured on the general line the taxes would go from $1.00 to $1.37. Council Member Long asked if the Supervisor wanted to take anything out of reserve for the DA. “No,” was the response. The Budget Officer stated you can use $58,000 or put in $60,000. Council Member Long stated that brings us down to being $252,000 over the tax cap a 30% increase in taxation across the A, DA and SF. The Supervisor wanted $60,000 in the reserve for the highway. If the $60,000 is removed we are $192,000 over the tax cap and an overall increase of 23.62%. Council member Long stated the rate is now at $7.37 per thousand up from $5.96. Council Member Long will post his spread sheet on the website. It was noted to the public that the only official budget is from the Budget Officer Joanne Young. The Budget Officer calculated if a 2% across the board including the Town Clerk and Highway Superintendent it is a $12,388.00 increase. She was just summarizing.
The Clerk reminded the Supervisor about a resolution he wanted to bring before the board. The budget session was closed at 1:21 pm
The Bookkeeper Joanne Young explained that the bill was not approved at the meeting on October 14.
RESOLUTION #2020-127 to approve payment of a bill for the highway department was offered by Council Member Glenn at a budget work session held on October 16, 2020 at town hall.
WHEREAS, there was an expenditure that did not get approved at the regular monthly meeting, and
WHEREAS the highway department purchased a used plow from Mike Voght for $1,500. Now therefore be it
RESOLVED, that the Caroga Town board does hereby move to pay the bill as presented for audit.
Adopted by a vote of 5 Ayes, Horton, Glenn, Long, Sturgess, and Travis.
At 12:22 pm the meeting was adjourned.
Linda Gilbert, RMC, CMC
Caroga Town clerk
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