Kensington approves $3.89 million budget within tax cap

Kensington approves $3.89 million budget within tax cap
The Village of Kensington approved a $3.89 million budget last week. (Photo from Google Maps)

Kensington village trustees approved a $3.89 million budget for 2019-20 last Wednesday that stays within the tax cap, rising $129,873 – or 3.4 percent – from the current $3.76 million.

The vast majority of the village’s revenue would come from property taxes, which would amount to $3.21 million. This is $37,646.64, or 1.1 percent, higher than the current $3.17 million expected from property taxes.

The rest of the funding, worth $366,350, comes from a combination of permits, fines, grants, state aid and miscellaneous items.

Kensington Mayor Susan Lopatkin said falling within the tax cap is a product of “belt tightening,” grants from the state and county, and careful monitoring of expenses.

“We’re still able to stay within it at least for this fiscal year because we’ve been monitoring our expenses very closely and we had negotiated our police contract in a way that was comfortable for everyone,” Lopatkin said on Tuesday. “We’re just very, very careful.”

Kensington’s public safety budget, which includes the Police Department, the fire protection contract with Vigilant Fire Company and safety inspections, is expected to rise $73,581 from $1.48 million to $1.55 million.

The Police Department makes up most of the increase, with expenses slated to rise from just shy of $1.22 million to $1.29 million – or about $73,432. Salaries will increase from $984,120 to $1.05 million, according to the budget.

The department is also getting a new car with equipment, Lopatkin said, leading to the cost of cars and equipment going up from $11,000 to $58,500.

Kensington’s contract with Vigilant Fire Company will decrease slightly from $232,491 to $231,540, while safety inspection costs are expected to increase from $30,900 to $32,000.

Kensington employee benefits are expected to increase from $779,957 to $795,530, according to the budget. Hospitalization and medical insurance would go up from $384,136 to $391,727, while police retirement pay would stay stable at $260,000.

Currently, the budget calls for $215,873 for the village’s garbage and refuse contract with Meadow Carting, which is about $30,000 higher than what the village had budgeted in its 2018-19 plan.

Lopatkin said the increased costs could probably be linked to prevailing wage laws, leading to costs being pushed onto customers. What the village has budgeted might not even “be enough,” she noted.

Lopatkin said she believes increases like this are “going to be endemic” to all of the villages, making it even more difficult to keep budgets within the property tax cap.

“This year we were able to [stay within the cap] but I think that the writing is on the wall for the future,” Lopatkin said.

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