I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. As November draws to a close, I am wrapping up budget season.
The Glens Falls Common Council is set to approve its budget at its meeting at Tuesday. In case you need a refresher, click HERE to read a story about what they are proposing.
I am also catching up on budgets from our northern Warren County towns. The budget is one of the most important documents a community has. It lays out the priorities and objectives for the coming year.
As I shifted from the education beat to the city beat, I had to brush up on how to read municipal budgets. School budgets are very cut and dry. There are basically two main sources of funds – property taxes and state aid. The rest of the budget is funded through a hodgepodge of revenue including federal aid and items such as fees for renting classrooms. If there is a shortfall, school officials dip into surplus funds to plug the gap.
Municipal budgets are a little more complicated. Many of them are separated into a general fund and a highway fund. If the community has water and/or a sewer districts, those are separate funds. If there is a fire district, that may be another tax. It makes it difficult to write stories because you have to make sure you are comparing apples to apples, for example the total general and highway budget for 2018 compared with the general and highway budget for 2017.
The town of Lake George has another wrinkle with the village of Lake George encompassed inside it. Residents in the village pay town taxes and village taxes.
It is important to analyze the numbers to get a better sense of how the money is being spent.