Thomaston proposes tentative budget with no tax increase

Thomaston proposes tentative budget with no tax increase
Thomaston village hall. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

The Village of Thomaston is looking to continue its streak of not increasing taxes with a tentative budget proposal for the 2024-2025 fiscal year that secures the stagnant tax rate for the 15th year.

Mayor Steven Weinberg told the Board of Trustees meeting Monday night that the village will not be raising taxes once again, which he said will be the 15th year the village has held the line. The village’s tax rate will remain at 33.481.

“So management without a tax increase,” Weinberg said.

The $2.6 million budget will be funded by $1,462,137 collected in taxes, more than half of the budget. The total budget is increasing to $2,603,627, almost $150,000 more than last year, when $2,455,474 was appropriated.

The mayor said there will be an increase in the Vigilant Fire Company tax rate for residents north of the Long Island Rail Road tracks. He attributed this tax increase to increases in costs for fire and ambulance services. The village does not determine the tax rate for fire services.

Weinberg said the village’s finances would also continue to be debt-free, with no new borrowing proposed in the tentative budget.

For next year, Weinberg said the village is planning a capital project for drainage improvements by paving portions of Windsor Road and Valley View Road that were not previously repaved. He said the village will seek out a grant to help fund the project.

Projects that are continuing will be the beautification of the village’s traffic islands and the continuation of tree plantings.

“I think our budget is in line with the services we provide for the village and what we do to keep Thomaston looking the beautiful suburban community it is,” Weinberg said.

Trustee Nancy Sherman questioned why the budget proposal included an allocation of $47,000 for legal fee expenses, which is higher than what has been spent in the past two years with each fiscal year reaching approximately $28,000. In both those years, the allocated expenses for legal fees were $70,000 in 2022-2023 and $40,000 in 2023-2024.

Weinberg said the legal fee amount is based on the asked proposals with slight increases, saying that the village has been sending a little more work to the village attorney. With that said, he added that the village does not expect to spend as much as is allocated as done in years past.

The village approved the draft form of the 2024-2025 budget and will hold a public hearing to further discuss the proposal.

The board also considered going into a municipal agreement with the Village of Kensington to share public work services, which Weinberg said arose after a conversation with Kensington Mayor Susan Lopatkin.

Weinberg said the agreement would include the Village of Kensington paying the Village of Thomaston’s Department of Public Works to sweep their village three times a year. This would be a paid service to the Village of Thomaston.

Weinberg said the Village of Thomaston would benefit from this agreement by potentially qualifying for reimbursement grants for offering shared services that would reduce the costs of the village’s street sweeping overall. He said there is still a question of whether this agreement would qualify for such grants.

He said another potential aspect of the agreement would be for the Village of Kensington to maintain some of Thomaston’s traffic islands.

The board also approved the acceptance of the SAM grant, which is a reimbursement grant of $50,000 for the drainage and road improvements at Avalon Road and North Avalon Road.

“Which are being done now as we speak,” Weinberg said.

The board also discussed the possibility of implementing solar-powered stop signs with blinking lights, which Weinberg said would cost about $2,000-$3,000 per sign. The signs would potentially be added to the intersections of Highland Avenue and Shoreward Drive, and Highland Avenue and Colonial Road.

The intersections currently have stop signs but are not equipped with solar-powered lights. Weinberg said the signs with lights would increase visibility and help aid in traffic safety.

The board will be continuing their discussion on implementing the stop signs at a later date.

The board also OK’d a move by residents to install lights into village trees. Weinberg said residents would need to submit plans to the village for the lights to be approved before being hung up, and would be responsible for any possible damages from said installation. Light installations would need an end date for removal by the resident.

The Village of Thomaston Board of Trustees will convene again on Jan. 8.

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