BETHLEHEM — Comptroller Michael Cohen introduced the town’s tentative $45 million budget for 2020 at the Sept. 25 Town Board meeting.
The $45 million figure marks an increase of $2 million or 4.6 percent from 2019’s $43.1 million amount. When divided across the town’s departments, it roughly comprises of $8.6 million to police, $0.9 million to parks and recreation, $0.8 million between parks and highway departments, $8.5 million to highway, $14 million to public works and $7.5 million to all other departments. Also, $1.4 million will go to ambulance/EMS and $3.3 million will go to debt service.
Among the reasons the town’s budget would increase is because of the Clapper Road Water Treatment Plant’s debt and how the money that goes to county EMS will increase by 13.9 percent, from $1.1 million in 2019 to $1.2 million in 2020. This relates to how county EMS was announced earlier in September that it would be moving to full-time staff.
In terms of taxpayer impact, the proposed 2020 town budget would raise the average property tax bill on a home assessed at $260,000 by $24.68 to $1,018.92, a slight increase from 2019’s $994.24 figure. From the $1,018.92 amount in 2020, $449.75 goes to the Highway Fund, $235.92 to the General Fund, $157.72 to the Water Fund, $85.93 to the Sewer Fund, $79.26 to the County EMS and $10.34 to Delmar-Bethlehem EMS.
The tax rate sees an increase of 2.5 percent and the tax cap is at 2 percent; the latter has happened once before since 2013. The tax levy is up by $532,089.
Cohen’s presentation had a slide which demonstrated a $1 bill as a metaphor for how residents would pay $0.67 in taxes to the school district, $0.12 to the county, $0.04 to the public library, $0.04 to the fire districts and just $0.12 to the town. Cohen also noted that town staffing has decreased from 241 in 2008 to 220 in 2019, all while still providing the same services to residents.
Looking ahead, the Town Board can begin asking questions and discussing the tentative budget further in its Oct. 10 meeting. A public hearing on the budget will then be held on Oct. 23 and the final budget is set to be adopted on Nov. 13.
For more information on the tentative 2020 town budget, visit www.townofbethlehem.org/192/2020-Town-Budget. For more information on town budgets from years prior, visit www.townofbethlehem.org/DocumentCenter/Index/37.