BY NANCY KELLY
Kings County Register
Kingston commissioners delivered a “good news budget” May 13 at the annual meeting of the village.
Bill McKennan, clerk/ treasurer, presented the budget which holds the line on 2008/ 2009 residential and commercial tax rates, steady at 26 cents and 35 cents per $100 of assessment respectively, and includes a reduction in the sidewalk area rate from five cents to three cents. The general sewer rate, a flat rate charged to all residential customers, will go up by $24.20 to an annual charge of $266.20. The additional sewer charge, applicable to commercial users, will have an additional 10 cents added to the base collection rate, hiked by the same amount this time last year.
McKennan said the budget, which took “significant hours to draft” was achieved through four formal budget meetings and numerous discussions. Commissioners were tasked with factoring in basic and unchanging financial pressures, including utilities and capital needs, while balancing the need to put money aside to “deal with issues down the road. “Being prepared for large, one-time expenditures will be the challenge in the future.”
He indicated other villages, including Port Williams and New Minas are already in the habit of preparing for future projects. “It is time for Kingston to start developing better long-term financial plans,” noted McKennan.
Kingston’s tax rates are lower than those two villages, with ‘08/ ‘09 residential and commercial tax rates in Port Williams set at 36 cents, and at 45 and 50 cents respectively in New Minas. Greenwood is the only Kings County village offering similar levels of service with a lower tax rate than Kingston’s. At the Greenwood village annual electors meeting, held May 12, residential and commercial tax rates of 21 and 23 cents were approved.
Other “guiding principles” of the budget include maintaining existing levels of service, identifying and incorporating efficiencies and ensuring rates and fees are appropriate.
The village’s total operating budget came in at $975,465. On the expenditure side, 34 per cent of the total, or $333,000, is allotted for sewer services, 26 per cent for transportation services ($258,000), 18 per cent for shared services ($178,000), and the remaining 22 per cent for debt payments, capital financing and economic development. Forty-seven per cent of revenue, or $448,000, will be generated by property taxes, 46 percent ($453,000) by sewer fees and the remaining seven percent from the sidewalk rate and other income.
Using a home valued at $150,000 as an example, McKennan said the unchanging property tax rate, combined with the sewer rate increase and reduction in the sidewalk rate, will result in a net reduction of the tax burden by $5.80.
The operating budget for the coming year was increased by close to $30,000 over last year’s budget, $946,000.
The audited financial statement for the fiscal year ending March 31 of 2009 revealed the village’s actual revenue was just over $1 million and expenditures totaled $897,000, resulting in a financial surplus of $156,000.
BY NANCY KELLY