By Jeanne Sager
SULLIVAN COUNTY November 24, 2006 The end of the year means the tax man cometh.
Sullivan County’s 15 townships have recently set spending limits and once the county completes its review of the individual budgets, tax bills will be sent out to property owners countywide.
Here’s a rundown of the fiscal situation in the towns of Bethel, Callicoon, Cochecton, Delaware, Fallsburg, Forestburgh, Highland, Liberty and Tusten. Look to Tuesday’s Democrat to sum up the rest of the county.
There’s still growth in the Town of Bethel, and with it comes increased costs.
The town board approved a 4.4 percent increase (about $32 on every $100,000 of assessed valuation), but that includes the hiring of a new full-time constable and full-time building inspector.
Another jump of almost $100,000 was realized in the highway department alone, according to Supervisor Harold Russell, along with a 6.9 percent increase in health insurance costs.
But Russell credited the board with holding down the increase to just 4.4 percent when the tax base grew by only $70,000.
“It’s really a well-worked out budget,” he said. “It think the town board should be commended.
“We really did a lot of pencil pushing.”
Taxes will go up 1.34 percent in the Town of Callicoon next year.
The town’s overall expenditures are up $22,780 with a 14 percent increase in insurance and fuel costs on the rise.
But there is good news.
“We were able to keep it down to a 1.34 percent increase in taxes because of growth in the Town of Callicoon for the 16th year in a row,” said Bookkeeper Joe Anne Baker.
A 2.935 percent increase is all the Town of Cochecton will suffer in 2007.
Supervisor Sal Indelicato said taxpayers can thank a town board with its head on fiscal management.
“We in our town don’t show an indebtedness,” he said. “We’ve paid for everything as we’ve gone.”
That increase is what Indelicato called a “real number.”
Other towns might show smaller hikes, but they have hefty bond payoffs that taxpayers will continue to be responsible for in years to come, he said.
“They show a 2 percent increase because they don’t pay their bill!” Indelicato added.
Estimating the effect the county’s review will have on the town’s budget, Indelicato said taxpayers can expect to pay about $670 on every $100,000 of assessed valuation.
A 9.4 percent increase will be realized in the Town of Delaware budget in 2007.
Bookeeper Lillian Bauernfeind said there’s no one spot in the town’s expenditures to point the finger.
“Unfortunately, fuel goes down to everything else,” she noted. “It supplies everything . . . goes in tires . . . it’s just the plain cost of living.”
Although the figure is subject to change based on the county, the town has estimated a $55 increase in taxes on $100,000 of assessed valuation.
A 4.67 percent increase in the budget will equal out to about an $11.30 increase on $1,000 of assessed valuation in the Town of Fallsburg.
Comptroller Joanne Ehrlich said the increased costs were the same as in years past.
“It’s always retirement, always health insurance,” she said.
Although the Town of Forestburgh took a major hit last year with the court’s decision to award Mirant Energy a reduced assessment, the town board was able to keep spending down this year.
A 3 percent raise across the board along with slightly higher hikes for the highway superintendent and town clerk factored into the approximately 3 percent increase in the budget.
An aging town hall will weigh on the backs of taxpayers in the Town of Highland this year.
The town’s budget is going up 6.44 percent in 2007 with just 3 percent raises across the board for employees.
“Buildings was our biggest increase,” said Bookkeeper Jean Vandemark. “We have some heavy repairs to do at the town hall.”
With the purchase of two new trucks for the highway department, major improvements at Hanofee Park with the pool and the addition of a seasonal code enforcement officer, Liberty will see a budget increase of 5.6 percent this year.
For taxpayers who live in the Village of Liberty (and don’t take advantage of all of the town’s amenities), that translates to about a $24 increase per $100,000 of assessed valuation.
Taxpayers living outside the village will see a jump of about $32.
The increases also include an $80,000 jump in health insurance costs in the town and 3 percent salary increases across the board (with the exception of elected officials).
A 14 percent jump in highway costs sent the Town of Tusten’s overall budget up by 6.5 percent.
Although Tax Collector and Town Clerk Kathy Michel said she can’t yet determine what the affect will be on taxes (that number will come when the county is done reviewing the town’s budget), she said the town worked to keep the numbers down.
“It isn’t as bad as it could be,” she said.