Clay residents will see a nearly 20 percent cut in their town taxes this year, as promised by former Supervisor James Rowley during the police consolidation proposal.
Rowley, who resigned Oct. 13 to take a position with Onondaga County, attended Monday night’s Clay Town Board meeting in order to present the budget he helped prepare.
As promised during the consolidation proposal, we will deliver on the nearly 20 percent tax cut, Rowley said. It’s about $10.02 per $1,000 in assessed value. The savings are there, and they’re real.
But, given the state of the economy, Rowley emphasized that the tax cut was a one-time thing.
Things are terrible, as we all know, he said. This tax cut will not be kept next year.
Rowley said, given the likely reduction in building and inspection fees, CHIPS aid and mortgage tax from the state, the town would have to raise taxes in 2010 by about $4.45 per $1,000 next year just to cover the shortfall, or 10.5 percent.
Now, that number is a little misleading, he said. We reduced taxes by a very large amount this year, and that skews the numbers a bit.
Rowley calculated that residents’ taxes would have been about $12.20 per $1,000 had the police merger not gone through.
On a house valued at $112,360, that’s over $60, he said. It’s a significant amount.
The town of Clay’s budget is actually three budgets in one: the general fund, which includes everything (the expected tax levy is $652,342, up 11.1 percent from $579,384 from 2008); the part-town fund, which covers everything in the town except for the village of North Syracuse (the expected tax levy is $919,032, down 60.5 percent from $2,296,223 in 2008); and the highway fund (the expected tax levy is $3,974,315, up 1.1 percent from $3,876,444 in 2008). The total tax levy is $5,545,689, a decrease of 19.1 percent from 2008.
The budget also includes the following: the hiring of a full-time comptroller, which Rowley said will save the town money in the long run because it will allow for more efficient management of town funds; increased money for salt and fuel in the highway department; labor contract increases of 3 percent in the highway department and 4 percent for clerical workers; the use of sales tax money to offset the debt service of the reconstruction of Waterhouse Road; and delaying the purchase of a snowplow, which Rowley said was a $250,000 to $300,000 savings.
The budget also calls for the water department to start paying more for overhead costs – up from $10,000 last year to $80,000 this year.
They have been significantly undercharged for their overhead costs for a long time, in my opinion, Rowley said.
Board member Clarence Rycraft objected to the increase expected for the water department and voted against approving the tentative budget.
I think we need to do a full analysis of every department and their costs of operations, Rycraft said. I’m withholding my approval until we do some more research.
The rest of the board voted to approve the tentative budget as the preliminary budget for the town. A public hearing will be held at 7:54 p.m. Nov. 3 to discuss adopting it as the actual 2009 budget.
In other business:
‘ ‘Supervisor Damien Ulatowski appointed board member Robert Edick as his deputy supervisor.
‘ ‘The board scheduled public hearings on the Special Districts, Fire and Uniform Water budgets. They will take place at 7:41, 7:47 and 7:50 p.m., respectively, on Monday Nov. 3.
‘ ‘The board issued a resolution honoring Rowley for his years of service to the board and the town of Clay. The resolution is as follows:
Whereas, James J. Rowley (Jim) has served the residents of the town of Clay since 1996 in a number of important capacities and roles, as a member of the Clay Town Board, deputy supervisor and supervisor; and
Whereas, Jim announced his resignation as supervisor of the town of Clay, effective Oct. 13, 2008 in order to accept an appointment made by Joanie Mahoney to serve as chief fiscal officer for the county of Onondaga; and
Whereas, Jim has had a positive influence on the residents by contributing in specifically significant ways through his dedicated service in acquiring numerous grants benefiting the town, and being the ‘architect’ for the consolidation of the Town of Clay Police Department into the Sheriff’s Department of the County of Onondaga and negotiations to enter into a contract with the county of Onondaga for police services; and
Now, therefore, be it resolved, through the efforts of Jim and the town board, the town of Clay continues to be a better place to reside and work; and the town board on behalf of themselves and the community wish to publicly acknowledge their heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for his many years of dedicated service to the town of Clay and offer their best wishes and success in all his future endeavors.
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.