As in recent years, new construction reduces tax impact

Beacon Mayor Lee Kyriacou on Tuesday (Oct. 10) introduced the city’s proposed 2024 budget, a $35 million spending plan that includes about a $100 property tax increase on the average home and a $1,000 employee-retention raises for city staff.

The budget proposes a decrease in the residential tax rate for the third straight year; if approved, it would fall to $5.87 per $1,000 in assessed value, from $6.21. However, because home assessments in Beacon continue to rise, City Administrator Chris White estimated that the average ($400,000) home would see its tax bill increase by about 4 percent, or $100.

The commercial tax rate would decrease for the second year in a row, this time to $9.16 per $1,000 in assessed value, from $10.68. A $500,000 commercial parcel would see a 14 percent decrease, or $760, in its tax bill.

The tax rates are determined in part by what New York State calls “base proportion” percentages. The percentages, which can change from year to year, determine the balance between residential and commercial properties in making up the city’s tax levy, which next year will be $12.76 million.

In 2024, residential taxes must account for 73 percent of that levy, and commercial taxes 27 percent. The levy is $536,425 less than what the state-mandated tax cap would allow.

In addition to cost-of-living adjustments, the city has proposed a $1,000 annual raise for every employee. “The labor market is incredibly tight,” White said on Tuesday. “We’re having trouble, particularly at the lower salary levels, in holding on to people. Everybody’s hiring, and there’s a limited pool from which to hire.”

Only one new position, a part-time police dispatcher, is proposed for 2024. Two positions created this year — a recreation assistant and deputy building inspector — are retained in the budget. The recreation assistant will allow the city to expand its afterschool programming sites from three to four in early 2024; the summer camp program at University Settlement will also expand by two weeks next year.

The proposed budget would use $250,000 from savings to balance the $25.4 million general fund and $96,500 in savings for the $4.2 million water fund. The $5.3 million sewer fund is not expected to draw from savings. Water and sewer fees would increase for city residents by 4 percent and 6 percent, respectively, to cover what city officials said were rapidly rising costs for supplies and repairs.

On Tuesday, Kyriacou explained that the addition of $27 million in new construction and renovations to the tax rolls had mitigated the tax increase for residents. “In the face of a challenging budget year, the modest increases we have proposed are aimed to continue moving the city in a positive direction while limiting the tax impact on homeowners,” he
said.

A public hearing on the budget is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 13; the City Council must approve the spending plan by year-end.

Public comment

The council heard from a dozen residents Tuesday about the proposed rezoning of a mile-long portion of the Fishkill Avenue (Route 52) corridor. Most asked the city to involve public input in the process while seeking an affordable, walkable area that preserves views of Mount Beacon and the Fishkill Ridge.

“The most important thing is that there needs to be community input,” said Tina Bernstein, one of the speakers. “And if we truly want community input, there has to be a moratorium on construction in this area. We need to reach out to people in this community where they live. It’s not enough to expect people to come to City Council meetings, or to fill out something online.”

6 Commerce St.

The council voted 6-1, with Dan Aymar-Blair dissenting, to rezone 6 Commerce St. from a residential classification to the Central Main Street zone, which it abuts. The property owner plans to rent the space for commercial use and requested the change. Aymar-Blair, who represents Ward 4, said in previous meetings that he opposed the change because the property owner should have gone to the Zoning Board of Appeals but in Aymar-Blair’s opinion approached the City Council to save on legal fees.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Corrections:

The original story reported that the city planned to give each employee a one-time, $1,000 bonus. In fact, the proposal is to increase every city employee's annual salary by $1,000.

Simms has covered Beacon for The Current since 2015. He studied journalism at Appalachian State University and has reported for newspapers in North Carolina and Maryland. Location: Beacon. Languages: English. Area of expertise: Beacon politics

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