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Towns conservatively positive about economic activity in 2010

HARLEM VALLEY — It’s tough to predict what will happen to the local economy when you are in charge of preparing the town budget. Estimating how much you will receive in sales taxes has been especially difficult because sales taxes have fallen across Dutchess County every year for the past three years.  For example, in the town of Washington sales tax receipts decreased 58 percent between 2007 and 2010.

Sales taxes passed down to towns typically fund about 4 to 5 percent of a town’s total budget. The chart illustrates how four town boards predicted the revenues their own town would receive in 2010 from the county in sales taxes. This is a very local prediction of what each board assumes will happen to the economy in 2010. It also represented most town’s approach to budgeting.

“When you do a budget, you always want to underestimate your revenues, and overestimate your expenses,”  Pine Plains town Supervisor Gregg Pulver said.

Only the town of North East has projected an increase in 2010 sales taxes compared to last year’s budget. This 10-percent increase is based on the more than $100,000 actually received in sales taxes for 2009. Amenia was more conservative — it kept its budgeted sales tax revenues level with the 2009 budget at $160,000, although the actual sales tax receipts for 2009 were in the vicinity of $200,000.  Town Supervisor Wayne Euvrard said he’s optimistic.

“I have high hopes that 2010 will be similar to 2009’s actual receipts,” he said.

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