Beacon Remains Under 2% Tax Cap For 6th Year In A Row

If you got a refund from your property tax escrow account for being overestimated, this could be why (although we’re not property tax experts, but a refund did come our way this month). Mayor Randy Casale presented Beacon’s 2019 Budget in October, and stated: “In this year’s budget our homestead tax rate shows a decrease of 1.6518% and the non-homestead rate dropped 1.8073%.”

Before presenting the complex layers of a city’s budget, the Mayor also pointed out: “This is the fifth year in a row that we have received a ‘no designation’ classification from the NYS Comptroller’s Office with a score of 5. We have an Aa2 Moody’s bond rating. This shows our tax dollars are being managed thoughtfully and responsibly. This is the sixth straight year we were able to stay under the 2% tax cap while continuing to provide the services that keep our city safe, invest in our infrastructure and improve the quality of life for our citizens.”

Anthony Ruggiero, the City Administrator, reminded readers of the 2019 Budget Presentation of the history of the tax cap: “The tax cap law established a limit on growth of the annual property taxes levied to 2% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. As you may recall, last year the tax cap was actually 1.84%, however this year it is 2%.”

Select Increases Projected For Certain Line-Items In The 2019 Budget

Water and sewer rates will show increases: 5% for water and 10% for sewer. Said the Mayor in the 2019 Budget Presentation: “These increases will allow us to continue to make upgrades to both facilities and our aging infrastructure.“

Infrastructure upgrades have been going on in Beacon on several neighborhood streets since the summer. There was a sewer collapse on Main Street at Tioronda, which closed the street to cars for several days, and negatively impacted neighboring businesses, like Raven Rose who experienced sewage backup into the shop.

Says Emily Burke, owner of the kitchen store Utensil, which until very recently was located on the eastern end of town (she has since moved to the west end of town, with an expanded shop): “The ongoing construction certainly had an impact on all the east end businesses.”

Also significant is the retiring of Beacon’s Building Inspector, Timothy Dexter. He served the city for 36 years in several roles, including Firefighter, Building Inspector, Fire Lieutenant, Acting City Administrator, “and mentor to many,” Anthony stated in the budget presentation letter.

The position of the Building Inspector will remain, but move to the Building Department’s budget, and away from the Fire Department’s budget, where it was previously. Building Department staff will remain the same, and the number of firefighters (13) and fire chief (1) will remain the same.

There are other highlights of what budget line-items are increasing or decreasing, which you can see here in the budget itself.

Recycling Market Crash Significantly Impacts Beacon’s Budget

The City Administrator stated that Beacon will keep weekly recycling, but at a loss to what was budgeted previously. “This is significantly impacted by the collapse of the recycling industry. The City went from receiving a revenue of $15 a ton to an expenditure of $61 a ton. This, combined with the increases in garbage contracts, amounted to $99,698 increase in the general fund expense budget.“

If you need to see things visually, as a line-item, this could look like +$15/ton as income to Beacon, and now looks like -$61 as an expense. The collapse of the recycling market was predicted for years by business leaders in the recycling industry, and was triggered by the Chinese decision in January 2018 to buy almost none of the recycled paper pulp coming from the United States. (A reminder: When putting goods out for city recycling, all recyclable paper and plastic must be dry and clean. Rinsed and not soggy. Otherwise, if the plastic is coated in food or dirty, or the paper soggy, it does not get recycled.) A Little Beacon Blog hasn’t gotten an official quote on where non-purchased recycling goes if it’s rejected and not purchased by China.

Beacon Homestead & Non-Homestead Assessed Value Increased

As explained by the City Administrator in the budget presentation: “This year the homestead assessed value increased by 3.47% or $30,859,063 million. The non-homestead assessed value has also increased over last year by 9.65%, or $23,815,921. This year represents the fifth year since 2009 that the overall assessed values increased, and did so by $54,674,984. Homestead values remain more than $102 million less than it was in 2009. The non-homestead assessed value has fluctuated through the years, and while it increased approximately $23,815,921 this year, it is only the second year in a row that it has been more than in 2009.”

Public Input Scheduled For November 19, 2018

CORRECTION: This section originally stated December 3, 2018 as the Public Hearing. According to the Mayor’s letter in the Budget Presentation, that was the date set. However, the Public Hearing for the 2019 Budget was announced and scheduled for Monday, November 19, 2018.

Department heads have been meeting in workshops throughout the fall. Workshops are open to the public to watch, but not participate in. A Little Beacon Blog republishes workshops here to help increase accessibility to these videos and agendas of the meetings. The opportunity for the public to come out and contribute their opinion on the 2019 Budget was Monday, November 19, 2018 at 7 pm at City Hall. This is the white building near the train station that also houses the police station and courthouse.