Plan includes tax bump for homeowners
The Beacon City Council on Monday (Nov. 21) unanimously approved the city’s 2023 budget, which includes a modest property tax increase for homeowners and a tax break for commercial property owners.
The $33.7 million spending plan includes a tax-rate decrease of 11 percent for residential properties. But because assessed residential values are up 16 percent, the average home (assessed at $400,000) will see a 2.9 percent tax bill increase, or about $80 annually.
The $12.5 million tax levy — the total amount of property taxes the city will collect — is about $400,000 less than what a state tax cap allows.
The city will benefit in 2023 from the addition of $26 million in new or improved properties on the tax rolls, as well as a sales tax-sharing agreement negotiated with Dutchess County that should bring in more than $1 million in added revenue.
For commercial properties, the tax rate will drop 10 percent; the city estimates that those tax bills will decrease next year by nearly $600, on average.
As always, the budget is broken up into three funds: a $24.6 million general operating fund, a $4 million water fund and a $5.1 million sewer fund. The newly approved plan includes 3 percent increases in water and sewer fees to cover inflation and ongoing infrastructure investments.
The budget adds two full-time positions to the workforce — a firefighter and a water/sewer maintenance helper — as well as a part-time civilian dispatcher in the Police Department. It also funds a full-time mental health case manager in the Police Department, ambulance service, park bathroom cleaning, the nascent municipal compost program and expanded public swimming pool hours.
Earlier this month, Council Member Justice McCray questioned the inclusion of $4,000 in the budget for the Youth Police Academy, a free, weeklong summer program for students entering grades 9 through 12 that provides an introduction to careers in law enforcement. During a public hearing on Monday, several community members, including members of the city’s Police Advisory Committee, spoke in favor of the program.
After the council’s vote, Kenya Gadsden, a member of the advisory committee, noted that a police officer sworn in earlier that evening had attended the youth academy. Its sustained funding will allow the city to continue “growing your own,” Gadsden said.
“It’s an opportunity for us to make that program whatever we want it to look like, and it can look just like Beacon,” she said.
No surprise that Mr. McCray objected to the $4,000 sum allocated to the Youth Police Academy. He has been an outspoken advocate of de-funding the police for years. Perhaps he prefers the Newburgh model, which has the mayor begging the civilian population for assistance in solving the many felonies committed there on a regular basis.