Clifton Park budget calls for 2.6 percent spending boost

GAZETTE FILE PHOTO.GAZETTE FILE PHOTO.

By Kassie Parisi

Gazette Reporter

CLIFTON PARK — The town has released a tentative $17.2 million spending plan for 2018, an increase of 2.6 percent from the current year’s budget.

Total proposed spending in 2018 is $17,281,220, up from the $16.8 million approved for 2017.

Clifton Park Town Supervisor Phil Barrett noted the tax levy boost was largely due to increased health care costs for town employees and upgrades to the town’s computer system. The town was recently awarded a grant to pay for some of the computer upgrades, but the overall project is expected to cost at least $200,000. In March, the town completed a $16,000 overhaul of its website.

The town will continue without a property tax in 2018. The proposed spending plan includes the rollover of $172,000 that went unused in 2017.

In 2018, the projected town highway tax for a home valued at $250,000 will be $40.24, an increase of about $3 from the current fiscal year. The proposed increase will pay for additional road paving and upcoming infrastructure projects, according to Barrett.

The EMS tax rate will go down from approximately 26 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value to approximately 25 cents. That decrease comes from a growing health care industry presence in town, including plans for Ellis Medicine to expand its facility off Exit 9, Barrett said.

Town employees would also see a raise under the 2018 plan. CSEA union members would get 3 percent raises, while non-unionized town employees would see a 2 percent pay boost.

While the town, for the most part, has a stable number of long-term employees, over the past year, some departments have not been functioning at full staff. With the departure of the Clifton Park Senior Community Center’s executive director in 2016, the town took over the day-to-day management of the site. Over the summer, however, the town hired a new executive director for the center, along with a new full-time laborer, bringing the payroll back up.

Barrett added that employment numbers will fluctuate again soon. Two members of the highway department retired in 2017, he said, and several more will be eligible to retire soon.

Also included in this year’s budget is funding for the town’s curbside pick-up program, which is free for residents. The town provides the program every other year.

While the budget has shifted slightly up or down each year since 2015, the changes aren’t drastic. Changes, Barrett said, come from certain projects the town decides to spend money on each year, such as repaving the lot in one of the town’s parks or putting a new roof on a town building.

“We’ve worked hard to place the town in very sound fiscal position, and I’ve always committed to the residents of Clifton Park that we’re not going do anything to change that trend,” Barrett said.

A public hearing on the budget will be held Nov. 9, and the spending plan will be voted on by the Town Board at a subsequent board meeting, also in November, Barrett said.