Walden objects to town tax hike
“Can the village secede from the town?” The question from a resident at the Walden Village Board meeting last Tuesday neatly summed up reactions to the 16.58 percent tax increase recently approved by the Montgomery Town Board.
The increase means a village resident in Maybrook, Montgomery and Walden with a home assessed at $200,000 will see an increase of $162.33 in their town taxes. Town residents outside the villages with the same assessed value will see an increase of $114.94.
The Village Board noted that seceding from the town was not really an option, but they could pursue city status, which was not recommended. They concluded that the only recourse was for residents to take everything into consideration during election season and for the villages to become more involved in the town’s budget process.
“I think this board works extremely hard to be fiscally prudent,” said Walden Deputy Mayor Susan Rumbold. “Sometimes I feel like all that work and effort to keep the village an affordable place to live is almost undermined by other boards inflicting tax increases almost indiscriminately.”
The Walden Village Board voted unanimously to adopt a resolution voicing their opinion on the town board’s actions. That resolution, in part, stated that the Village Board “strongly objects to the excessive tax increase of 16.58 percent to the Town of Montgomery A Fund which will adversely affect the taxpayers of the Village of Walden.”
“Sixteen percent is unacceptable,” said Rumbold.
Mayor Brian Maher forwarded a copy of the resolution with a letter to the town supervisor which noted that the Village Board “does not believe in simply making a motion to express our dismay.”
Instead, the Walden Village Board is looking to meet with the town in an effort to work together to cut costs and create revenue streams for the A fund.
“We believe that if representatives from the Town of Montgomery and the Village of Walden can sit down in good faith and enter into discussions about the budget then we can find ways to lessen the burden to our taxpayers moving forward,” Maher said in the letter. “The Village of Walden cannot afford another tax increase next year that is anything close to 16 percent.”
An invitation was also extended to the villages of Maybrook and Montgomery to take part in the possible discussions.
“I knew none of them were going to be happy,” said Montgomery Town Supervisor Mike Hayes, after the Village Board meeting.
Hayes said he understands why residents are upset, but that the loss of revenue limited the town’s options for the budget. While he had mentioned cutting Dial-A-Bus and Senior Transportation, (it was the only “optional” service that could generate more than $300,000 in savings), it was not a real option.
“It’s a real benefit to [seniors and] I didn’t recommend doing it, but it was the only one,” said Hayes.
Hayes stated that after cutting wherever is possible for the last few years, coming up with $500,000 in lost revenue this year was just not going to happen.
“Hopefully after this year it’ll be balanced out again,” said Hayes.
Hayes shared the letter and resolution from the Village of Walden with the rest of the Town Board at their meeting last week and asked for volunteers from the board to participate and possible dates for the requested meeting with village officials.
When asked if he thought the town would be able to come in under the tax cap next year, Hayes replied, “It’s possible.”
By RACHEL COLEMAN