Legoland contribution is part of Goshen budget for the first time

Goshen. In the town budget this year are $260,000 in host community fees and $12,233 in taxes from Merlin Enterprises. Dissenting councilman says budget short-changes two employees with increased workloads.

| 29 Oct 2019 | 04:48

The Goshen Town Board passed a $9 million budget for 2020. Although not unanimously approved, the good news is that town residents will see their taxes decreased by 2.67 percent, and village residents will get a 12.06 percent decrease.

“Village taxes have gone down in five of the last seven years, and Town residents have seen a reduction in taxes in six of the last seven years,” said Town Supervisor Doug Bloomfield at the town board's Oct. 24 meeting.

In fact, taxes to be paid in 2020 are lower than what was paid in 2013.

“The Town of Goshen may be the only municipality in the State of New York that has had reductions in tax rates in five and six of the last seven years," Bloomfield said.

Councilman Ken Newbold cast the dissenting vote. He said the budget didn’t include compensation for two town employees who “have spent countless hours at jobs that have been added to their workload.”

New this year, using proceeds from the Merlin host community fees to lower property taxes. In the budget this year are $260,000 in host community fees and $12,233 in taxes from Merlin Enterprises, developers of Legoland.

In 2019, Merlin paid $12,569 in taxes. Once the property is fully developed, its contribution is expected to increase significantly.

“Our accessible tax base will go up even further in 2022, if everything in the planning stage gets built,” said Bloomfield.

Building and highway departments work harder

Newbold praised the supervisor and other board members for “a great budget — one that people will benefit from."

But he said he’s concerned that “two employees got short-changed.” The jobs that the town added to the building and highway departments require countless hours of work, he said, and they should be compensated.

The town asked the building inspector to assign 911 addresses to new construction, and asked the highway superintendent to coordinate water reports and send them to the state. Both employees did receive a 3 percent salary increase.

Newbold said the supervisor’s position received the 3 percent salary increase, along with a $5,000 raise.

“The supervisor’s position was once a part-time position," Bloomfield said after the meeting. "However, with the growth the town is experiencing, it has become a full-time position. The raise is an attempt to bring the salary up on par with department heads. This raise is second in a four-year plan to get the salary of the ‘Position of Supervisor’ where it should be.”

Salary for the Superintendent of Highways line item is about $20,000 higher than that of the supervisor’s, and the Building Inspector position is about $17,000 higher.

Other increases

Other increases include:

· Salaries for two judges were bumped up to 3 percent plus an additional $2,000.

· Salaries for a judge’s clerk and the deputy town clerk were also raised.

· The town allotment for the Goshen Humane Society was increased by $5,000, raising it to $25,000.

· Joint Recreation was given an additional $15,000, bringing the allotment up to $100,000. These are matching funds with the Village of Goshen.

The town sets and meets financial goals:
Supervisor Bloomfield listed the board’s financial planning goals, instituted in 2006, when he first took over the supervisor’s post:
Maintaining a fund balance
Living within means
Protecting jobs and services
Staying within the state tax levy cap of 2 percent.
The board meets these goals by:
Buying used equipment
Paying cash to reduce debt (eight loans paid, with one remaining)
Resolving tax certiorari (cases reduced from 300 to 22)
Increasing funding to keep up with road repairs (increased from $231,223 up to $1,144,000, with 40 percent of work is completed)
Pursuing grants
Growing the assessable tax base with residential and commercial construction
Contracting assessing services with Orange County
Sharing services (a Village of Florida truck compacts large loads during spring clean-up)
Using road grindings from the Village of Goshen to fill shoulder space on town roads