Thursday, 26 April 2018 18:10

Ballston Spa Budget Talks Force Delay of Vote

In photos (left to right): Ballston Spa Trustee Shawn Raymond, Mayor John Romano and Trustee Noah Shaw. Photos by Larry Goodwin. 

BALLSTON SPA – In advance of a special budget meeting that has been set for next week, village officials voted unanimously on Monday to exceed the state-mandated 2 percent cap on increases to property tax rates.

A final vote regarding the 2018-19 budget was scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, April 30 in Village Hall at 66 Front Street. 

Ballston Spa Mayor John Romano indicated that the Board of Trustees and other village officials are still reviewing the proposed $4.3 million spending plan ahead of a May 1 deadline. The next fiscal year starts on June 1.  

Previously, a 26 percent increase in the village property tax rate had been discussed, but Romano said that rate was lowered. He declined to provide details, as negotiations are continuing this week among village officials. 

In recent weeks, the mayor said, a number of reasonable ideas have been proposed to address a budget gap that exceeds $350,000, as described in a March 20 letter by Ballston Spa Treasurer Christopher Hickey.

There will be neither services cut nor village employees laid off, Romano said.

He added that some of the financial difficulties the village is now facing could be traced back to a previous decision to lower the property tax rate.  

Trustee Noah Shaw pointed out how it was “lost” in recent discussions that property owners are taxed the most not by the village, but by the Ballston Spa School District.  

Currently, according to Romano, a village property valued at $180,000 pays $3,345 in school taxes; $482 in county taxes; $117 in town taxes; and $694 in village taxes each year.

In addition, at the meeting Monday night, two resolutions presented by Trustee Shawn Raymond were tabled due to the absence of Village Attorney James Fauci.

Raymond is proposing to create a new electronic filing and correspondence policy in Ballston Spa, according to the official meeting agenda. 

After May 1, Raymond wants “all public documents” made accessible in a digital format, including “reports, correspondence, meeting minutes, proposals, bid documents, contracts and other public documents.” Copies of those documents would be emailed to the trustees and archived in Village Hall as well.

Raymond is also proposing to “alter the procurement policy regarding services contracts,” the agenda states.

The new policy would require that any contracts exceeding $5,000 annually be subject to “request for proposals (RFP)” guidelines, in which “three or more” proposals are reviewed and the lowest bidders chosen.  

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