Voorheesville proposes 1 9M budget

By Zach Simeone

VOORHEESVILLE — As more money comes in to the village, water is contributing less and less to that flow.

Last week, a $1.9 million preliminary budget for the coming fiscal year was passed unanimously by the village board. The new budget will be about $10,000 lower than the current one.

“I think it’s a good, balanced budget,” Mayor Robert Conway told The Enterprise.

“There’s about a 5-percent increase in taxes,” Mayor Conway said at last week’s village board meeting, noting the increase in the real-property tax levy, from $214,367 in the current budget, to $226,144 in the new budget. The tax rate has risen to $1.02 per $1,000 of assessed value.

“That’s about $10 more for homeowners,” added Trustee David Cardona. Cardona acts as the budget officer for the village. He made the motion to pass the budget, seconded by Deputy Mayor William Hotaling.

“Each year, we deal with pretty much the same challenge, which is to continue to provide the services our residents need, and to try to do that without incurring additional costs,” Mayor Conway said. “We make decisions on which services to continue providing, and what services to curtail, though none were curtailed this year. I think we’ve done that with a relatively small impact on the tax rate.”

Software for hardware guys

While the new budget will be more trim than the one in effect now, not every annual expenditure is following the downward trend. An additional $10,400 is going towards bolstering the building department.

“This year, we’re upgrading the building department’s software package to be compatible with that of the village clerk’s office so that there will be an interface between the two offices,” said Trustee Cardona. He thinks that the existing computer system is terribly outdated, and communication between the clerk’s office and the building department is vital, he said.

“This software will automate the permit process. Everything that the building department does now will be automated with state-of-the-art software,” Cardona explained. “We spend too much time opening up a filing cabinet to find a file. We just can’t operate like that anymore.”

On the rise

Accompanying the smaller budget is an increase in revenues, totaling roughly $1.6 million. This is largely due to a dramatic difference in the water budget; the water main under the railroad tracks on Voorheesville Avenue, just down the road from the village hall, was replaced late last year.

So, while the village had appropriated close to $90,000 for water projects for the current fiscal year, the new budget looks to spend only $5,000.

The bulk of the budget, though, is funded by sales tax, which is distributed by the county to municipalities based on population. Voorheesville has budgeted for $820,000 in sales tax revenue.

Another contributing factor to the rise in revenue is the additional $7,500 from mortgage taxes, bringing its total to $37,500. Cardona, however, was a bit puzzled in regards to the increase. “I’ve been wondering about that, myself,” he said.

“In today’s economy, no one seems to be buying homes. If nobody’s buying homes, why is the mortgage tax going up?” Cardona asked. “I assume that most of it is from people refinancing their homes; that’s the only thing I can attribute it to. When the market’s up, and everyone’s buying new homes, the village brings in more mortgage tax, so there’s more mortgage recording tax paid. In an economy like this, when not so many homes are being sold, you tend to wonder why we’re receiving more mortgage tax.”

There is, however, an ever-widening hole in Voorheesville’s revenue pool. Metered water sales are down $30,000.

“Atlas Copco is recycling their water now, which is wonderful on the one hand, but it hurts our revenues because they are not buying as much water from us,” said Cardona. “Water conservation is great for our water supply, but as Atlas Copco slowly weans away from purchasing our water, and starts to recycle more, we see our revenues drop drastically. This is our biggest issue right now,” he said.

Still, with the rising cost of fuel, “which has driven up the cost of just about everything else,” Cardona believes that the board has put together a fiscally responsible budget. “We controlled our spending the best we could. The board insured that the services that all of us have become accustomed to will still be provided.” It’s basically the same budget that it’s been in the past, he said. “We’re watching every dime that we spend.”

Other business

In other business, at the April 22 village board meeting, the village board:

— Sent its condolences to the families of Harold Flansburg, Neil Luther, and Evelyn Mitchell;

— Congratulated Lauren Finnessey, Christopher Mancuso, and Alexis Moore on receiving Outstanding Student Awards from the YMCA;

— Voted unanimously to raise the water usage rate for the first 25 gallons to $130 minimum, paid in advance; and

—      Scheduled a workshop meeting for 6 p.m. on May 7 to finalize plans for the village’s Memorial Day celebrations.

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