Montgomery Town Supervisor Brian Maher delivered the tentative 2021 budget to the Town Clerk’s Office on time, a feat that has not been done in the town for many years.
Highlights of the tentative budget include a 5.39 percent decrease to taxes in the town wide fund, which includes the Villages of Walden, Montgomery and Maybrook as well as town residents who do not live in an incorporated village. The tentative budget also includes a .60 percent decrease in the town only fund, which includes town only residents, not those that live in villages. There is no tax increase in the highway fund, which includes the same tax base as the town only fund.
“In our tentative budget every town resident will be looking at a decrease in the amount of town taxes they paid from last year,” Maher said. “We approached this budget with a long-term plan in mind and we looked at every expense and revenue line to see how we could maximize every single taxpayer dollar. We will be proposing some major changes including how we approach our workforce structure moving forward. Five full-time positions have been eliminated from our tentative 2021 budget.”
Maher added that these positions will be highlighted later on in the process. The Town Board is still deciding which positions to eliminate.
The process for developing the tentative 2021 budget has been rigorous. Town Board members have been going through invoices from every town department to better forecast what dollar amount should be in each budget line. Each board member was assigned to three departments. There was also a return to traditional budget sessions involving the entire board, separate from regularly scheduled monthly meetings. In total, three budget sessions took place.
On Thursday, Oct. 15, the Town Board at their regularly scheduled work session, will set a date for a public hearing on the 2021 budget for Thursday, Nov. 5 at 6:30 p.m. At that point, a preliminary budget will be set and a final budget will be adopted on Thursday, Nov. 19 after residents have had an opportunity to view the budget and make comments.
Montgomery Town Councilwoman Cindy Voss is pleased with how the budget process has been handled this year.
“This budget cycle has been very different from more recent years,” she said. “The board has had tremendous communication and involvement with the supervisor during this budget process. Having board members meet with the supervisor and department heads and going through invoices is a great practice and I believe it will lead to a better and more accurate final product for the taxpayers.”
Maher noted that he learned a lot about handling budget cycles from his time as the mayor of the Village of Walden.
“During my time as mayor of Walden, I learned that having several budget sessions with the entire board separate from regularly scheduled Town Board meetings allowed us to have a singular focus,” he said. “I wanted to bring what I learned to the town and really involve the board as much as in both crafting and finalizing this budget as a team.”