CHARLTON — The town will go into 2020 with no town property tax for the 38th consecutive year, based on the tentative town budget.
The proposed spending plan calls for total town spending of $2,026,772, which is down about $10,000 from this year.
The big reason overall spending is down is that the town this year finished paying off a five-year bond anticipation note it took out to pay off a lawsuit stemming from a contract dispute over construction of the Town Hall. The final payment, made this year, was $254,000, said Town Supervisor Alan R. Grattidge, the town budget officer.
Because of the bond being paid off, the general fund’s total spending is down $120,384, he said, but the Highway Department went up by $110,000, to increase the town’s paving budget and for highway equipment purchases, Grattidge said.
“It is a solid, conservative budget, this is 38 years of presenting budgets with no town tax,” he said.
Because the bond is paid off, the town for the first time in years won’t draw any money from its fund balance, an undesignated surplus, Grattidge said. This year, $99,000 was taken from the fund balance, which once topped $1 million but is down to about $200,000. “We’re hoping to start replenishing the fund balance,” he said.
“We’ve been able to maintain services for town residents without taxes, and that was what the fund balance was there for,” Grattidge said.
The town relies on its share of the Saratoga County sales tax for about three-quarters of its revenue, with mortgage tax receipts, court and other fees and state aid covering the rest.
Grattidge said he expects the sales tax to grow another 2 or 3 percent next year, because he believes people are spending more with the improved economy.
In addition to money for additional paving, the budget includes money for upgrading the Town Hall computer system and painting the wooden exterior of the hall. “Those are things we’ve been holding back on because of our constraints,” Grattidge said.
The paving budget will increase from $215,000 to $250,000, paid for by state highway construction aid and town funds.
There are also raises, with clerks at Town Hall being increased to $15 per hour, and part-time elected officials also scheduled for raises. Grattidge is proposing that the supervisor’s salary be increased from $13,000 to $15,000, that Town Board members be raised from $5,400 to $6,000 annually, and that a part-time police officer and part-time animal control officer be combined into one single full-time position.
A public hearing on the proposed budget will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 28, at the Town Hall. The Town Board is expected to vote on the spending plan on Nov. 12.
While there are no town property taxes, residents do pay property taxes for special district services, including public water, fire protection and emergency medical services.