Town of Lee Supervisor John Urtz

No town tax anticipated in Lee for 37th straight year

Published Sep 12, 2018 at 4:00pm

TOWN OF LEE — When the town’s proposed 2019 budget is presented next month, it is anticipated to include no general taxes for the 37th straight year, says Lee Supervisor John Urtz.

Urtz discussed his outlook for the budget following the Lee Town Board’s meeting Tuesday night that addressed initial preparations for compiling the 2019 spending plan.

“I anticipate no general and no highway (department) taxes...same as last year,” Urtz said. He is basing his projections on “budget factors I know” at this point.

The 2018 town budget is $2,508,341 as approved last fall. The general fund and highway department fund portions comprise nearly two-thirds of the total budget.

The board scheduled a closed work session for Thursday morning to “go over the budget” including recommendations for next year, said Urtz; it could involve “any additions or subtractions you want to make,” he told the board, adding after the meeting that some possible further town park projects could be among topics.

The overall Thursday session will be closed because personnel-related topics such as individual salaries will be discussed, he added.

Urtz did note “we want to build” funding within the budget to cover for an expanded new sand/salt storage building at the town highway department, plus a new payloader for that department to replace an old vehicle.

Otherwise, the overall proposal for 2019 should include “very little changes...as I look through the budget,” Urtz told the board.

Among revenues to support the budget have been sales tax proceeds distributed by the county, plus state financial aid and cable television fees. The town also has some funding in reserves for possible usage.

A “big question” will involve the town’s water system, said Urtz.

It is funded through standard bills to about 1,300 customer accounts, and the water district totaled about $556,000 in the 2018 budget.

But the town has been seeking an updated contract with the City of Rome, from whom Lee buys water for its system, and those details could affect overall water rates.

“And the beat goes on,” Urtz said of the long-running water-purchase contract negotiations with the city that have included rate-study reviews among the factors. He quipped “we’ve got two years yet to get ‘er done.”

The town’s previous contract with the city expired at the end of 2015, and town purchases of water have continued at two-year-old rates that are less than the city’s latest pricing notifications to the town.

The town has been hoping to reach a new 5-year contract covering from 2016 to 2020.

Rome Mayor Jacqueline Izzo said in July that the town can make up the difference in payments between the two-year-old and current rates once a new agreement is reached.

Urtz plans to present a proposed 2019 budget at the board’s next regular meeting which is Oct. 9.

The board typically schedules a public hearing on the budget in October, and considers
final approval at its November meeting.