QUEENSBURY — The sales tax revenue projection is going up in the 2020 tentative budget, but it’s still about two years behind the actual receipts.
The Town Board will discuss it at Tuesday’s 3:30 p.m. workshop.
Resident and board candidate Travis Whitehead has for years argued that the town should better budget the sales tax revenue, but Budget Officer Barbara Tierney said it’s too much of a risk for her.
“I’ve seen an $8 (million) become a $6 (million) in a hurry in the recession,” she said. “It’s a scary thought. You never know.”
In the 2009 recession, the town saw a 9% drop in sales tax revenue in one year, according to Warren County records. Then revenue began to go back up. To drop from $8 million to $6 million would be a 25% drop.
For next year, Tierney has projected the town would get $9.25 million. That’s less than the town is on track to get this year and less than the town received last year.
But Tierney said the sales tax revenue won’t rise forever.
“Not only do you not want to over-guess, you are subject to the economy,” she said.
The revenue funds two-thirds of the $14 million general fund and highway budgets.
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“That’s a huge shortfall when it’s funding most of your budget,” she said.
Still, she stressed that the town hasn’t finalized any numbers yet. After the Town Board discusses the tentative budget on Tuesday and makes any changes, the final version will become the preliminary budget. That’s the budget the public will discuss at the annual public hearing.
This year, she budgeted $8.8 million for sales tax revenue. The town received $9.4 million last year.
Whitehead calculated that the town is on track to receive $9.67 million this year, but Tierney noted that the town has only received half its allotment so far.
“We’ve only received $4.1 million,” she said. “And you can’t call the state to find out where you’re at for last month. We’re fairly confident we’re going to hit the $9 million mark.”
The tentative budget proposes to leave the town tax unchanged at $0.521 per $1,000 of assessed property.
There are no significant changes in spending, Tierney said.
The fire departments are proposed to receive an additional $50,000 for a total of $3,067,000, and the ambulance services are proposed to receive $109,000 more than this year, for a total of $2,278,300.