The adopted 2017 town budget for Galway does contain a property tax increase. The tax increase will raise the tax rate on the townwide general fund from the current $1.4568 per $1,000 of assessed value to $1.5587 per $1,000 of assessed value an increase of $.1019 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. That means for every $100,000 of assessed value the tax will increase about $10.19. This was necessitated by increases in pension costs as well as increases health care costs and other general costs. We have tried to use "fund balance" revenue to offset increased in expenses. Fund balance revenue is money that is not spent at the end of the year and rolls to the next year. This is also our rainy day fund to help offset any unanticipated drop in revenues during the year or any significant unanticipated expenses.
The town's budget is just over $2.3M and we collect just over $1.1M in sales tax revenue to help offset taxes. Sales tax revenue is subject to fast changes such as a dip in the economy or a large spike in gas prices, thus making it somewhat difficult to predict with certainty. In addition we raise $362,128 in real property taxes for town expenses and highway costs. For residents living in the Galway Fire Protection District, the cost of fire protection $255,550. That tax amount is will be up about $2 per $1,000 of assessed value in addition to the general town increase. Residents living in the Harmony Corners Fire District section of Galway pay according the amount levied by that district.
You may have heard about the NYS Local Property Tax cap implemented about 5 years ago. While most folks believe that cap is at 2% for growth in tax revenue collected, it really isn't. This year (2017 budget year) the amount of growth we were allowed without our exceeding our imposed limit was only .68%. That percentaged would have capped the town at about $7,700 in total new revenue generated by property taxes. That amount would have barely covered our increased costs in health insurance. The proposed tax increase is about 2% of growth in tax revenue generated by real property taxes or $22,600. This will allow us to cover increased costs and not use as much of our rainy day fund, thus allowing us to build that fund back up after years of use to reduce costs. The Town Board believed it was necessary adopt local legislation to allow us to exceed the .68%.
Our 2017 budget will allow us to keep funding to valuable programs such as senior programs, youth programs, family fun day, Galway Food Pantry and other activities that help keep the Galway commuity alive and vibrant. We will also continue to fund a portion of the operating cost of the Galway EMS agency. In 2017, we will contract with them for $68,680. We recently renogotiated the bond interest payment amount on the remaining portion of the Highway Garage bond, saving us about $6,000 in annual interest costs for the remaining 9 years of the bond.
The Town Board does not take raising property taxes lightly, it is only done as a last resort after we have exhausted cost cutting measures and increase other revenue streams. Galway will remain one of the lowest taxed towns in Saratoga County.