Determined not to raise taxes, the Skaneateles Village Board of Trustees held a public hearing on Monday April 11 and again on Thursday April 14 for the tentative budget.
Tightening the appropriation and revenue figures to keep the tax rate flat didn't come without concern from residents attending both meetings. Monday's meeting was standing room only as Mayor Hubbard and the board fielded comments and questions from the audience. Considering the large attendance, questions were surprisingly few as if testament to a board focused on no tax increase and working hard to make it happen.
One particular item was the reduction of street maintenance salary figures, from $406,500 to $201,000, resulting in the laying off of three DPW workers. Executive Director of the Skaneateles Chamber of Commerce Sue Dove sternly challenged the board twice about how the final figure came to be.
"The public should know just exactly what services may no longer be provided as a result of these cuts," said Dove. "If I had an organization that faced a budget cut of half yet expected the same service, I'd wonder what I did wrong before."
Skaneateles resident and CSEA Unit President David Short echoed Dove's sentiment.
"The quality of the life services, snow plowing, getting kids to school, repairing the streets, will be impacted by this reduction in force," said Short. "I ask the board to consider all the services provided before making hasty decisions."
Mayor Hubbard was commiserative yet firm in his reply.
"I can't predict when roads will be plowed or potholes filled, this board and the village faces a dismal fiscal situation," he said. "There's no way around it. I prefer to use the word 'change' not 'cut.'"
Sitting in the back of the room, Jack Haggarty of Skaneateles raised his hand.
"New York State is losing taxpayers, 1.5 million over the past 8 years," Haggarty said. "State taxes here are 60 percent higher than the national average. When the county, state and federal government added to the budget everyone was happy."