City eyes budget

JOHNSTOWN – The Common Council will consider adopting of the city’s 2014 budget Monday, but Mayor Sarah Slingerland says the tentative 2.8 percent tax-rate hike isn’t expected to change.

The council will consider adopting the city’s tentative $11.7 million 2014 budget at its committee meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

The meeting will begin with representatives from Benetech Inc. of Wynantskill, Rensselaer County, giving a public presentation on the Affordable Care Act.

“I gave it to the council [in October], now it’s in their hands,” she said today of the tentative budget. “I think there might be a couple changes.”

But Slingerland said she didn’t expect the tentative 2.8 percent tax-rate increase to change much prior to adoption Monday.

The outgoing mayor said she has tried to hold the line on taxes in the city the past eight years of her administration.

“Over a 10-year average, I think the [tax] increase has been pretty fair,” Slingerland stated.

Cost increases in the tentative city budget include pensions, up $27,000; health insurance, up $88,000; and workers’ compensation insurance, up $112,000. Another cost increase comes from the debt service for the new bridge on North Perry Street, which was rebuilt. According to the budget summary, this increased the budget by nearly $250,000.

Other costs, mostly for payroll, are up $182,400, according to a budget summary.

The tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property value would go from $17.49 in 2013 to $17.98 for 2014, an increase of 2.8 percent. This would stay under the city’s property-tax cap, set by the state.

The board also has a resolution on its agenda to retire city Police Department K-9 Spike. The police dog was being handled by Chief Mark Gifford after the arrest of its handler, patrolman Adam Schwabrow.

The 32-year-old Schwabrow was charged Sept. 19 by his own department with third-degree rape, commonly known as statutory rape. His next City Court date is Jan. 9. He is accused of having sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl sometime over the past year and a half. He is on unpaid leave from his city police officer position and another job as director of the Montgomery County Emergency Management Office.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at