The town of Clay will take comments on its preliminary budget at one more public hearing before it is enacted Nov. 20.
At the board’s regular meeting Nov. 5, Supervisor James Rowley said he wanted to hold off on passing the budget as long as possible to allow for public comment on it.
“We do have some more time,” Rowley said. “We don’t have to adopt it until the 20th, and we happen to have a meeting on the 19th, so I would make the suggestion that we adjourn this public hearing until the 19th just in case something comes up.”
The operating budget was presented at the board’s meeting Oct. 15. It has since been tweaked slightly; the tax rate will increase by 3.7 percent instead of 3.9 percent. The town used part of its fund balance to reduce the tax increase.
“This [budget] puts the town in good shape,” Rowley said. “I’m comfortable with this budget as being proposed in the preliminary stages.”
The overall 2008 budget, which includes the village of North Syracuse, is $136,325,582, a 1.69-percent increase over the 2007 budget. It includes provisions to perform operational audits in all town departments, study options to increase efficiency and evaluate opportunities for consolidation with other governmental units. The major factor in increasing the budget is the cost of benefits, which went up by 14.7 percent.
The final public hearing on the budget will take place at 7:44 p.m. Nov. 19.
Special Districts budget
The town also discussed its other budgets at the board meeting Monday night. The Special Districts budget includes all of the special assessment districts of the town, including sewer, drainage, water, lighting, hydrant and trash.
Town comptroller John Shehadi presented the proposed budget before the board and the public. The total budget is $5,745,000; $5,633,000 is to be raised through taxes.
“There’s 107 separate districts,” Shehadi said. “In years past, we’ve had as many as 700 districts. We’ve done a lot of consolidation.”
Once the debt for the construction of a project is paid off, each project is added to a consolidation district, and each parcel pays a certain amount of money per $1,000 of assessed value for repairs and maintenance. Shehadi said that’s the most significant impact of this budget.
“We’ve used up all of those funds and then some,” he said. “To try to get back to even, we’re proposing the unit charge for drainage to increase from $43 per parcel to $58. In sewer, the charge this year is $14, and that’s proposed to increase to $16. In total, the repair fund for each parcel would go from a total of $57 to $74.”
The board voted unanimously to pass the Special Districts budget.
Like the operating budget, Rowley asked the board to adjourn the public hearing on the fire budget to the Nov. 19 meeting.
“I’ve got some more work to do on this,” he said.
The town of Clay, Rowley said, is serviced by five fire departments: Clay, Moyers Corners, Caughdenoy, Brewerton and North Syracuse. Clay and Moyers Corners are wholly within the town’s boundaries, while the other three only cover pieces of the town. Those departments each submit requests to the town to address their budgetary needs.
The breakdown of the requests is as follows:
Brewerton: Requested $86,688, up from 2007 request of $80,640, an increase of 7.5 percent.
Caughdenoy: Requested $52,406, up from 2007 request of $50,880, an increase of 3 percent.
Clay: Requested $699,694, up from 2007 request of $670,344, an increase of 4.37 percent.
Moyers Corners: Requested $1,515,252, up from 2007 request of $1,415,848, an increase of 7 percent.
North Syracuse: Requested $225,244, up from 2007 request of $193,743, an increase of 16.3 percent.
Overall, the fire protection budget is proposed at $2,579,384, up 6.964 percent from last year. Rowley said that he is hoping to lower those numbers. He will give another presentation on the fire budget at the Nov. 19 meeting.
Uniform Water budget
The 2008 Uniform Water budget was presented by Shehadi. The budget addresses the portion of the town on town water, slightly less than one third of all parcels.
“The water department’s in good shape,” Shehadi said. “The utility itself is in good shape. We had a nice year with few repairs.”
The budget is entirely funded by the residents who receive town water. The water is purchased by the town from the Onondaga County Water Authority (OCWA) at an industrial discounted rate. The rest of the town’s residents purchase their water from OCWA at the residential rate.
The total budget for is $1,540,000, up from $1,409,000 last year.
“We’re in good shape financially,” Shehadi said. “The water department is self-sufficient.”
The budget passed unanimously.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.