AMSTERDAM- Town Supervisor Thomas DiMezza said the town may introduce a highway-use tax to help raise more money for its highway fund.
The town's preliminary budget for 2013, introduced during last week's Town Board meeting, is about $4.1 million.
According to DiMezza, the tax would generate roughly $7 for every $10,000 of value on a home - so a homeowner would pay roughly $70 for a home assessed at $100,000.
DiMezza said the tax could raise more than $271,000 for the highway fund.
"It's not exorbitant, it's $70 per household once a year," DiMezza said.
DiMezza said the town has never had a property tax established, and all the funds gained by this proposed tax would be placed directly into a fund that the Highway Department would have access to. The funds could pay for plowing snow, employee benefits, and maintenance for the machinery of the highway department.
Due to rising costs, DiMezza said, the new revenue stream is needed. A truck for the highway department in 2000 only cost around $67,000, he said, but a new truck in 2012 cost $150,000. Retirement benefits have also gone up, DiMezza noted, with a 260 percent increase in 12 years from $37,000 per employee to $97,000.
"There isn't anything that hasn't gone up since 2000," DiMezza said.
DiMezza said this would not be a property tax, but merely a special highway tax. DiMezza said the Highway Department only has around $1,500 of unused fund balance left over for the year.
DiMezza said this new tax would push the town's taxes over the state-imposed 2 percent tax cap.
"It would go over the tax cap, because its a brand new tax," DiMezza said.
However, he believes there will be an understanding with the public on the tax.
"I would think they would more accept it because it's for the highway fund," DiMezza said.
He said without this new tax, there is a chance the town would slip into the red.
"It's the least evil thing to do and the most beneficial," DiMezza said.
DiMezza said the Town Board will need to approve the special tax.
The board will work on the budget for the next few weeks. A public hearing on both the possible highway tax and the budget will be held Nov. 21 before the 7 p.m. regular board meeting.