Town wrestles with budget

The town of Broadalbin held its regular board meeting on Tuesday. Shown from the left is town clerk Cheryl Brigg, Councilman Dave Bardascini, Councilman Doug Kissinger and Supervisor Sheila Perry. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

BROADALBIN — The town is continuing to work on its preliminary 2021 budget, making cuts in every department where possible, however, taxpayers may face a property tax increase as the town is approximately $675,000 in debt for the costs of the park, which has yet to open.

The town board continues to work on the preliminary 2021 budget the past couple months, as there have been issues with both the highway department and the Broadalbin Youth Commission.

During one of the town’s budget meetings, Highway Superintendent Eric Alley requested a $10,000 raise and refused to stay for further discussion on budget line items within the department unless he received that raise, board members said.

During the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, board members did not approve the minutes from that budget meeting until what Alley said during that meeting is put in the minutes as verbatim.

Supervisor Sheila Perry said every department had taken budget cuts and every department complied except for one, and because there was no continued discussion, she said that department did not see any increases and those line items were left the same.

“I would like to thank all the people in various departments, for working with the town and not trying to make a personal game when the town is taking a hit,” said Councilman Dave Bardascini. “Every department took a hit.”

As for the Broadalbin Youth Commission and town park, representatives have failed to attend any budget meetings.

The Broadalbin Town Park, which costs approximately a little over $1 million was expected to be completed by the summer of 2018 and open in the spring of 2019, has yet to open. The park features two full-sized soccer fields, two softball fields, two baseball fields, a concession stand, a pavilion, a playground, bathrooms and parking for approximately 250 cars.

There is also a 16-by-30 shed that was built and donated by Lowe’s Home Improvement in Amsterdam. Buchanan said the shed will be used for storage.

Some of the funding for the park came from a $500,000 state match grant.

“Although the trucks and bulldozers have left the site, a year or so ago, the construction phase of the park is still one half not paid for,” Perry said. “We bonded $1 million, and we have defrayed that with help of money moved from the Field Reserve fundraiser proceeds from the youth commission, we defrayed that to $675,000.”

Line items discussed at budget meetings have included, what money would be available to pay on the Bond Anticipation Note, and what would have to be put on the tax roll to pay off the $675,000 balance when converted to a bond at that time.

Without any representatives there to discuss those line items, Bruce VanGenderen, a certified public accountant, has made suggestions that include:

∫ A payment of $125,000 with estimated interest of $21,000 be made bringing the BAN balance from $675,000 to $550,000, to be converted to a five-year Statutory Installment Bond with estimated 3 percent annual payments of $110,000 with interest.

He advised the town not to bond the amount for 20 years as it would not be good for the town to be in debt that long and constricts the town of any possible borrowing if needed.

∫ A raise in property taxes to accommodate the $110,000 payments.

∫ BYC become a 501C3 not for profit corporation, with the town leasing the fields to the non-profit and applying the amount toward the balance, along with BYC applying for its own liability insurance. The town park will not open until BYC becomes a 501C3.

There will also be approximately $80,000 available from the Fields Reserve account, and the town is waiting on the remaining $50,000 grant from the New York state Parks and Recreation, in which a motion was passed on Tuesday requesting that remaining grant money.

However, Keith Buchanan, BYC member, said even though they are fundraising for the town park as much as possible, a five-year Statutory Installment Bond with estimated 3 percent annual payments of $110,000 would not be feasible, but a 20-year plan could be done. He said he also does not want to be “forced” to become a 501C3, and proposed not to follow through with becoming a non-profit.

Buchanan said without the park open, they are unable to hold fundraising events such as tournaments already planned.

He said he’d like to table discussions on the matter, so other BYC members could be included, rather than Perry talking to just him.

“We had budget meetings for three, four weeks in a row and no one showed up. You guys do your own thing willy nilly, with no concern for this town board. You keep saying Sheila’s beating you up and for good reason — that town park was put there because of the youth commission and you bamboozled the old town board into doing it,” said Councilman Doug Kissinger. “And we’re stuck with it. There’s got to be an operating plan.”

“The reason the 501C3 is required to lease the park from us, the property owners, is because they need to become and entity with an EIN number and become a real entity,” Perry said. “We can’t go into a contract with them unless that’s the case. And that’s not us forcing them, that’s the legality of the whole thing. You need it for so many reasons.”

Kissinger said there is no money to pay for the town park, which means property taxes will be raised.

Councilman Dave Bogardus added that since the BAN is being converted to a bond in the town’s name, that affects the town’s bonding to buy trucks and other equipment.

“I’m hoping after this five-year commitment, that taxes can be dropped back down, because this is simply to pay for the balance of the bond,” Perry said.

The town will continue to work on the budget and have one more budget meeting before the public hearing.

A public hearing on the budget will held on Nov. 4 at 7 p.m.

By Patricia Older