Sunday, December 02, 2007

More Budget Info

KAZ made it all the way through the last post about the budget and as a reward I'll answer her question. She makes the valid point that spending increases are sometimes concealed by increases in total assessment. So the number most important to her is the % increase or decrease in total spending. And it is - ta da - 7.9%. Let's just say 8%.

First, let me reiterate that this increase in spending is covered by new construction in Dryden and by our savings, or fund balance. Let me add, that the spending increase is primarily due to cost of living salary increases and "one-time" expenses. That is to say, the "one-times" will not affect next year's budget so it won't be a permanent increase.

For reasons that have to do with municipal law, the budget is divided into:

  1. Special Districts (Fire, Ambulance, Water, Sewer and Lighting) - up 2.4%
  2. Highway Department - down 3.3%
  3. Everything Else (Actually called "General" but EE seems more descriptive) - up 23%

Now you have even more questions, don't you? "Everything Else up 23%?!" Yes. Well. Everything Else includes Public Works. The Public Works Superintendent is also Highway Superintendent. This year he plans to build a salt storage building which we've needed for a long time. (Don't get me started on storing salt in the open adjacent to a wetland...) It's budgeted at $450,000 in the Everything Else, Public Works line. But, the Public Works Superintendent (who is appointed by the Town Board) puts on his Highway Superintendent hat (in which he's a elected official) and asks himself, "Where can I save some money in order to be able to afford this building without affecting the tax rate?" And he finds that he can postpone replacement of some equipment in the Highway Department budget. So, the Highway Department Budget goes down and the Everything Else budget goes up.

I'm actually oversimplifying. But that's the idea. And I'm using the salt storage building as an example because it's the largest single change, so it makes the explanation more dramatic.

More tomorrow or the next day about Special Districts.

By the way, you can see the entire budget at 2008 Budget (pdf).


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