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Mt. Pleasant Tax Cap Compliant, No. Castle to See 0% Tax Hike in 2023

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The towns of Mt. Pleasant and No. Castle expect to be tax cap compliant in their soon-to-be-approved 2023 municipal budgets despite pressures from inflation during the past year.

In Mount Pleasant, the town’s total proposed appropriation of $60.3 million represents an increase of about $2.9 million over the projected expenditures for 2022, but the plan is about $200,000 under the maximum allowable tax levy.

Meanwhile, in North Castle, officials plan to adopt a budget in two weeks that will have no tax increase for the second year in a row.

Last week Mount Pleasant Comptroller Brian Kenneally gave a presentation on the preliminary 2023 budget where a 2.5 percent tax levy increase is proposed. The typical homeowner with a residence valued at roughly $700,000 and in the Kensico Water District, which includes most of the town, would see a tax increase of a little under $50, he said.

However, inflationary pressures measured from June 2021 to June 2022 was about 7 percent, higher than the recent norms of 1 to 2 percent, Kenneally said.

“We’re really struggling with the overall economic environment and with everything going on,” Kenneally said.

One of the largest expenditure increases expected for 2023 is the cost of health benefits for town employees. Kenneally said his office was operating on the assumption of a 7 percent hike but that cost will jump by about 15 percent, costing the town an extra $400,000. That would be the second consecutive increase of 15 percent in that line.

Kenneally said a family health plan will now cost about $38,000 a year.

However, there has been some good news during the past year as revenues in several key areas were significantly higher than expected. Leading the way has been the mortgage tax, which is on pace to exceed projections by about $700,000 in 2022.

Kenneally said other areas where revenue has exceeded forecasts include an additional $400,000 in recreation revenues, mainly from the return of the camp and pool membership to pre-pandemic levels and an additional $200,000 in sales tax distribution from the county.

The year-end fund balance is projected to reach nearly $19 million.

“We’re in great financial shape,” Kenneally said. “We have $19 million in fund balance; we’re tightening our expenditures for 2023 and we’re committed as a board and an administration to not break the tax cap next year.”

Although no one from the public spoke, the Town Board left open last week’s public hearing on the budget until its next regularly scheduled business meeting on Dec. 13, when it will likely adopt next year’s spending plan. Kenneally said he doesn’t expect any substantive changes in the budget when the board reconvenes.

North Castle Budget

Proposed spending is expected to drop next year by nearly $1.3 million in North Castle’s $36.9 million budget, said Director of Finance Abbas Sura. The town has nearly completed its road paving program with just a few miles to be finished in the new year, accounting for the overwhelming portion of the decrease, he said.

As a result, the tax levy will remain the same next year as it is in 2022, at $24,143,579, about $1,227,000 under the allowable limit.

For the homeowner with the median home value of $1,015,000, that would translate into a town tax bill of $3,410, unchanged from the current year, Sura said.

The flat tax rate comes even as the town has been completing an extensive list of capital projects and has more scheduled for next year, said Town Administrator Kevin Hay.

Other notable projects that have been or are on the verge of being finished are the School Street-Cox Avenue intersection safety improvements, town playground equipment, the Clove Road field dugout project and purchase of the parcel on Mount Misery for historic preservation.

In 2023, capital projects will include a new well in Water District #4, the Wampus Brook Park light project, field improvements at Lombardi and Community parks and the final few miles of the road repaving program, Hay said.

“I believe we put together a sound budget to continue to put together quality services to the residents,” he said at the town’s recent budget hearing.

Given the challenging economic climate, Town Board members were pleased with offering no tax increase while maintaining services and making improvements to infrastructure.

“We all know that our weekly necessities are costing us more than ever before, whether it’s filling our gas tank or putting food on the table, and we know our residents are experiencing the same thing, obviously, and so to be able to offer this year a zero-increase budget, I think is really, really meaningful,” Councilwoman Barbara DiGiactino said.

The budget hearing was adjourned until the Dec. 14 meeting, where the board is expected to adopt next year’s budget.

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