The Town of Newburgh unveiled its preliminary town budget for 2021 during a public hearing on Monday.
The budget totaled up to $43.4 billion, which was a less than two percent increase from last year. The town will sustain a total of 164 full-time and 83 part-time employees, which include a police department of 44 full-time and 13 part-time officers, as well as 25 highway officers.
Both recreational and educational activities will be expanded in the new budget thanks to the recent $1 million grant announced by the Kaplan Foundation to preserve the historic 26-acre Desmond estate. The grant preserved continuing education programs through Mount Saint Mary College as well as environmental conservation.
Town Supervisor Gil Piaquadio was pleased at how the budget came about in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted local governments across the country.
“I want to thank all the town employees for a dedicated work that made this budget possible to these very difficult times,” he said.
Piaquadio pointed out how the New York State Comptroller’s office has given the Town of Newburgh a 0 out of 100 on its Fiscal Stress Monitoring System scale, with 0 being the best rating a municipality can receive for maintaining a balanced budget.
“My philosophy as well as the board has been to save for a rainy day as we strive to maintain a healthy fund balance,” he said. “This philosophy has served as well, and has allowed us to maintain a healthy financial position with strong reserve levels.”
There was still some criticism. When the board unveiled its special district assessment, rolls, benefits formulas and budgets for 2021, Town of Newburgh resident Sandra Kissam expressed her concerns that her water bill has tripled since last year.
“I want to live as reasonably as possible,” she said. “Water is a very precious resource, and I want to be as conservative with water as possible.”
In response, Town Engineer Jim Osborne explained that the rates have gone up gradually since he first came on board in 1992.