Ambulance spending up 23 percent, highway down 3
In a unanimous vote on Wednesday (Nov. 17), the five-member Philipstown Town Board approved a fiscal 2022 budget of $11.5 million, to be funded by $8.5 million in taxes, $2.1 million in revenue and $909,500 drawn from reserves.
The budget, which takes effect Jan. 1, represents a 1 percent increase in spending, or about $153,000, over 2021.
The tax rate will be $2.70 per $1,000 of property value in Cold Spring and Nelsonville and $3.60 per $1,000 elsewhere, an increase of slightly less than the 2 percent allowed by the state. The villages provide residents with such services as building inspections and street maintenance while non-villagers rely on the town.
Next year, some departments will see fewer dollars: Recreation Department funding will drop 1 percent, to $1,151,660 (a cut of $7,437), while money for the Highway Department drops by 3 percent, to $3.52 million.
The planning and zoning staff and boards were again funded at $120,000 and $19,500, respectively, while the Town Clerk’s Office will get $131,240, an increase of 7 percent.
Three of the four fire departments that cover Philipstown will receive increases of 2 to 3 percent: Continental Village will get $287,500 (2 percent); Garrison will get $787,350 (2 percent); and North Highlands will get $812,784 (3 percent). The amount for the Cold Spring Fire Co., meanwhile, will drop 5 percent, to $60,105.
Spending on ambulance coverage will climb by 23 percent, to $746,220. Councilor Judy Farrell noted that the Philipstown Volunteer Ambulance Corps and the Garrison Volunteer Ambulance Corps (staffed by volunteers and paid medics) faced escalating demands after the pandemic shutdown. “We need to support our first responders,” she said.
“That’s money well spent,” agreed Supervisor Richard Shea, who did not seek reelection to a seventh, 2-year term and oversaw his last budget before he leaves the board at the end of the year.
Compensation for elected officials mostly will stay the same. John Van Tassel, the councilor elected on Nov. 2 to succeed Shea, will receive a salary of $27,000. The four board members will again earn $18,000 each and Highway Superintendent Carl Frisenda will receive $91,200. Town Clerk Tara Percacciolo will receive a 2 percent raise, to $63,240, and each of the two town justices will get $31,000, or a $1,000 raise.
The pay for town employees will rise by at least 2 percent. “There’s inequities here” and some workers have groused about the higher increases granted to others, Councilor Robert Flaherty told his colleagues.
“I don’t feel there are inequities,” Van Tassel replied, saying that the higher pay reflects the fact that “roles and responsibilities changed dramatically” and some “people have picked up a lot of slack.”
Nonetheless, the board informally agreed to seek advice from an outside expert on standardizing evaluation and compensation practices.
Garrison Water District
In other business, the board approved arrangements with the Open Space Institute and a well-drilling firm for efforts on OSI land along Route 9D to create a new water source for the Garrison Water District, whose current supplies have proven inadequate as consumption has increased.
“This is the most troubled water district on the planet,” Shea commented. He said testing has begun on one spot “but we have not hit any water yet. We’ll keep going. We’re going to find water. It’s just a little dispiriting” right now.