The Shawangunk Town Board unanimously passed a 2020 budget during its meeting on Thursday night that includes a $4,093,144 total tax levy for all funds townwide and stays within the state-mandated two percent tax cap. The spending plan includes an additional $106,437 in taxes for all funds, with the Highway Department budget receiving the largest increase of $62,398 in funding.
The budget also raises $29,247 in taxes for the general fund and $9,000 for the Walker Valley fire district. While generally satisfied with the overall budget, Town Supervisor John Valk said the rising expenses of keeping the roads clear in the winter and mended in the spring and summer is a continuing issue. “The highway fund is very challenging,” Valk said. “The cost of the equipment, the salt and the blacktop is tough. Some of these major road projects have been put off for years. So now we have to fix them and fix them right. When I first got on the board 30 years ago, the supervisor at the time said ‘Let some other board worry about it.’ The problem is I stayed here 30 years and they’re my problems now. But overall it’s a good budget. We stayed below the tax cap while providing the services.”
As a result of the newly passed budget, a home in Shawangunk with an assessed market value of $250,000 is projected to see a tax increase in 2020 of $21.95. The town’s general fund tax rate increased by 12.75 cents per thousand assessed value in this year’s plan.
During the Nov. 7 meeting, the council set a public hearing for the town’s updated comprehensive plan for its session on Dec. 5. In January, the town held a pair of open house meetings to solicit public input on adjustments to its comp plan, and after Shawangunk Planner Bonnie Franson and the town’s Rezoning Committee spent the year formulating the new plan, the town posted the document on its website in October. Now the public will get a chance to weigh in on the plan’s vision for the town’s future.
Valk, who was handily re-elected to another two-year term as supervisor in the Nov. 5 general election, says the comp plan will be a major source of discussion in the months to come. “With the comprehensive plan we have a lot of zoning changes to work on, which can be controversial because you affect property rights,” he explained. “So that is a big thing that we’re going to have to work on in 2020, to get some of that done. Other than that, keeping taxes down is my goal and we have some improvements we have to make in the parks.”
In last Tuesday’s election, councilmen Brian Amthor and Robert Miller secured new four-year terms on the board. “It was very exciting and very humbling to receive those votes,” Amthor said. “I’m looking forward to another four years. We appreciate everybody coming out. We have a lot of things planned and we hope that we can accomplish a lot in the next four years.”
Miller said that he was grateful he could continue working with the board on a myriad of issues. “We have a lot that we need to get done and I’m happy that we can continue on doing these things like the sewer plant and the roads,” he noted.
During Thursday’s meeting, the board approved the hiring of three new part-time officers for the Shawangunk Police Department, as officers Kyle Weiskettle, Justin Larchevesque and John Lembo were all administered the oath of office by Shawangunk Town Clerk Jane Rascoe.