SOMERS, N.Y.-Somers will spend almost $14 million next year to maintain town services with a pennies-per-thousand tax rate increase.
A budget of $13,930,240 will hike the tax rate from $14.57 for each $1,000 of assessed value to $14.61. Tax-cap compliant, the budget increases Somers’ total property tax levy to $7,288,403.
The Town Board adopted the budget with minimal discussion at its regular meeting Thursday, a week after the spending plan’s Dec. 7 public hearing. At the hearing, the lone speaker, Patricia (Pat) Humphreys, assailed the essentially flat financing for the Somers Public Library.
As presented, the budget shows a year-over-year spending increase of less than $8,500—$1,033,289 adopted a year ago vs. $1,041,765 in next year’s budget. Moreover, the budget freezes the salaries of every library staffer, from director to clerks.
Supervisor Rick Morrissey said the town is still negotiating salaries and other issues with the Civil Service Employees Association. As a result, no pay hikes could be included in the budget.
“Once we settle with our CSEA unions,” he said, “both union and non-union people will get that pay increase.”
In the negotiations, the town has offered increases of about 1.75 percent. CSEA, citing longstanding policy, would not disclose its negotiating number. The final raise, in any case, will be paid for in 2018 out of cash reserves.
The library’s modest budget increase reflects overall constraints on total spending imposed by state restrictions. A 2011 state law limits increases in the property tax levy to the percentage rise in the Consumer Price Index, up to a maximum of 2 percent, and some allowance for tax base growth. In Somers’ case, CPI was capped at 1.84 percent, the fifth year in a row the levy has been capped at less than 2 percent. But growth factors allowed an increase of 2.3 percent over this year’s levy. In Somers, total appropriations increase by 2.2 percent over this year’s appropriations.