No town tax in Lee budget

Streak of ‘36 straight years’ cited

Published Oct 11, 2017 at 11:55am

TOWN OF LEE — Another year is set to be added to the town’s long run of consecutive years with no general taxes.

A streak proposed to reach “36 straight years” was cited by Lee Supervisor John Urtz after he presented the town’s tentative 2018 budget at the Town Board meeting Tuesday night.

The $2,508,341 spending plan, down about 4.6 percent from $2,631,023 in 2017, calls for no taxes to support the general fund and highway department fund portions which comprise $1,615,538 or nearly two-thirds of the total budget.

There are some taxes to fund fire protection expenses within the town fire district, plus taxes in five isolated street-lighting districts including increases in some cases.

“You’re going to enjoy tax relief unless you live in a lighting district,” Urtz commented during his presentation. A public hearing on the proposed budget will be Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall, 5808 Stokes-Lee Center Road. The board typically considers final approval at its regular meeting in November, which would be Nov. 14.

“I think it’s wonderful to be able to provide services for...our community...that do not impact their tax base,” Urtz said of continuing the string of no general taxes. Revenues to support the general fund and highway fund categories continue to includes sales tax proceeds distributed by the county, estimated to be similar to 2017 at $1.2-$1.3 million; highway improvement aid from the state; county snowplowing aid; mortgage taxes; and cable television fees.

The town has reserves of between $4 million and $5 million, said Urtz, including most of it for the general fund and about $500,000 for the town water district.

The budget proposal reflects “no dramatic increases” and is “down in some areas,” said Urtz. He separately noted it is “basically a maintenance budget,” other than a few increases such as 4 percent pay hikes for about 20 salaried town employees who are primarily part-time; there were no salaried increases in the 2017 budget. The five Town Board members, meanwhile, also “chose not to take any increases” in the 2018 budget, Urtz added. The town additionally has four hourly highway department employees who receive pay increases under a union contract.

Among the budget’s proposed spending categories:

• $811,788 for the general fund;

• $803,750 for the highway fund;

• $556,343 for the water district, funded by standard bills to about 1,300 customer accounts;

• $298,394 for the fire protection district.

• Lighting districts and their totals to be covered by taxes, including Delta Lake Estates, $15,000, up $200; Parkside, $10,700, up $40; Lee Center hamlet, $5,965, unchanged; Raven Rock, $4,450, up $25; Turin Towne, $1,950, unchanged.