CLAYTON — The town increased its property tax rate for 2021 to $1.473642 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
That means the average $100,000 home will have a town tax bill of $147.36 next year. That’s an increase of 1.2% from the 2020 rate of $1.456030 per $1,000 of assessed value, or a tax bill of $145.60.
Altogether, the town budget calls for $5.23 million in expenditures, and the town is expected to take in exactly the same amount in revenue from all sources.
The town board voted to pass the budget during its meeting Wednesday night.
Town Supervisor Lance L. Peterson Sr. said, on all fronts, this year’s budget is conservative.
“We kind of worked backwards on the budget, so to speak,” he said. “We wanted to stay under the state tax cap.”
Mr. Peterson said the town board considered what its taxing ability was this year, and worked backwards to establish what money could be put where, and where other forms of income could be found.
This year, New York state has forecasted state aid payments will be cut by up to 20% for most municipalities as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. That has left many local governments with massive holes in their budgets, both for 2020 and for the upcoming year.
Mr. Peterson said, this year, the town board took a five-year average of what the town has received in state aid and reduced that amount by 20% to establish an estimate for what they may receive this year.
“We cut back in the areas we thought we could cut back on, again being on the conservative side of things,” he said.
Some of the cuts made in the town budget include cuts to the town clerk and deputy clerk salaries.
In 2020, the town clerk salary was budgeted at $36,000, but for 2021 the clerk salary is budgeted to $28,500. The deputy clerk was set to be paid $35,360 in 2020, but is set to receive only $24,960 in 2021.
The promotional budget for the town, which pays for advertisements, announcements and other promotional materials for various town agencies was also cut, from $61,000 in 2020 to $47,000 in 2021.
The amount of money spent to pay off town debts also dropped by nearly $29,000 for 2021. The major debt-carrying projects in the town budget are the highway fund, the town docks and the roof replacement project for the Clayton Opera House, which also houses the town offices.
Despite having to make cuts this year, Mr. Peterson said many of the major projects planned in the town will move forward as planned.
“We expect to complete our ice arena project here by the end of March,” he said. “That was something we started last year, and we expect that to come to fruition.”
He said the town is also planning to start opening bids for the three Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative grant projects slated for next year in the town, which will help protect shoreline development from future flooding.
REDI grant projects are funded 95% by the state, leaving the town to come up with only 5% of the total cost, either in funding or in-kind services, where the town provides workers, materials or other non-monetary resources to help the projects along. Mr. Peterson said the town is planning to cover all their requirements with in-kind services
“We don’t expect to have to curtail those at all,” Mr. Peterson said.
Mr. Peterson said all things considered, he’s proud of the budget as passed Wednesday, and is confident the town is set to handle the financial uncertainty of 2021.
“I’m very happy with my board and all those involved that we can navigate through this and continue to progress,” he said.