The tentative budget is online here but after tossing ideas around with the other trustees, we came up with these changes:
We managed to actually CUT taxes by over 3% (3.06% to be exact) even with our garbage contract increasing over $119,000 this year (that represents more than a 5% increase in our budget). You can see the results below
As you can also see, this budget does nothing to increase our road maintenance. It is a sad fact that our roads are in need of repair. The Village engineer feels that Airmont needs at least $750,000 in our road budget and $100,000 in our drainage. They also informed us that roads should last 20 years. It seems as though the 20 year rule might not work for Airmont for 2 reasons; our winters are unusually harsh; Airmont roads were never built with proper drainage by today’s standards. After speaking with the engineer and planning board it is more realistic to put a 15 year lifespan on our roads. If we straight line our road repair budget over 15 years, using the rough paving cost estimate of $180,000/mile, and taking into consideration our 36 miles of roads, we come up with an annual budget of $432,000 per year to properly keep up with our crumbling infrastructure. After some healthy debate we decided that $400,000 should be adequate for 2 reasons, it will force us to explore micropaving techniques for less traveled roads and we should get enough CHIPS money to cover the difference. By adding $230,000 to the road budget the overall tax increase come to 7.75%.
We are at a difficult time where we are trying to balance service and efficiency under the thumb of a .45% tax cap. The truth is that is unsustainable. We need to not only make good on our promise to keep roads in top shape but proper road maintenance has a direct correlation to healthy home values. To put the percentage into perspective, the average homeowner pays $700/year in Village taxes. A 7.75% increase would be just $54/year. Furthermore, this budget will almost certainly ensure that future budgets come in with no increase at all.
November 17th Update:
Here’s the unofficial budget adopted last night. The official budget will be on www.airmont.org. I’d like to say that we stand behind the tax increase because it was the right thing to do for the village right now. Past boards have ignored the roads and this cost savings will result in little to no future tax increases while still accomplishing major road improvements.