Cortlandville town board approves budget by 3-1 vote

(Photo via Kevin L. Smith of The Cortland Voice).

The Cortlandville town board approved the town’s 2024 budget via a 3-1 vote on Wednesday night.

The $11.8 million spending plan for 2024 shows an increase in expenditures of about $649,813 from the $11.1 million budget for 2023. Next year's budget levies about $3.4 million in taxes -- an increase of about $96,000 more than the 2023 budget. The changes to the tax levy amounts to a $3.61 rate per $1,000 in assessed property value -- up a penny from the 2023 rate.   

The budget, as well as the budgeting process have come under question from town residents in the last two months. Residents have previously questioned the town board’s move to pass a local law that bypasses the state’s recommendation to keep tax rate increases below 2%. They have also questioned the amount of financial resources the town uses to work on the budget. 

Greg Leach, the town board member who voted “no” on the resolution to adopt the budget, said he heard and shared some of those concerns. Particularly, he said he disagreed with town supervisor Tom Williams’ move to absorb the town budget officer position, which included a $27,651 salary bump. The town also employs former supervisor Richard Tupper as a budget advisor, further dedicating resources to the budget process.

“I've questioned the budget officer and the need to hire additional help,” Leach said. “And I've also questioned the accounting for the Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex, and trying to keep a handle on that and make sure everything is accounted for. Even though the tax rate change is nominal, I couldn't in my conscience vote in favor of it when I had been challenging and questioning it.”

Leach declined to specify his concerns about Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex.

“I just want to make sure everything is accounted for properly,” he said.  

Leach added he got all the answers to the questions he had in the budget process.

“Even though I disagree with some aspects of it, I think they’ve sincerely tried to keep the taxes down,” he said.

A breakdown of the town’s 2024 budget can be found here.