All three towns have approved their final budgets for the 2013 fiscal year. Residents in all three towns will see increases in their taxes at varying levels. All budgets will be implemented as of Jan. 1, 2013.
Both Clay and Salina were able to keep their tax levy increases under the state’s 2 percent tax cap, despite passing laws to go beyond the cap as a precaution. The town of Cicero, however, will see a 5.5 percent increase.
Read on to learn about your town’s 2013 budget.
Town of Cicero
Cicero Supervisor Jim Corl said he hoped the 2013 budget would help put the town back on the path to fiscal solvency after years of overreliance on its fund balance, coupled with a significant loss in county sales tax revenue, declining home sales, failing infrastructure and rising pension and benefit costs.
“In my opinion, this is the most difficult budgetary cycle in the history of the town of Cicero,” Corl said.
The 2013 budget is $11,481,093, up 4.71 percent from 2012’s budget of $10,964,724. Of that amount, $6,916,471 must be raised through property taxes. That’s up 5.5 percent from last year, or $18.76 per $100,000 of assessed value (about $1.56 a month).
“I do want to reiterate the fact that we were able to get a budget adopted that represents a decrease in spending from the prior year,” Corl said. “There is an increase in taxes of about $18 for a $100,000 house, but overall, spending did go down.”
The upcoming budget includes money to revamp the town’s 130 miles of roads, nearly a quarter of which need to be updated.
“In recent years, the town has done work on approximately two to three miles per year,” Corl said. “At that rate, we will not make headway, and our roads will continue to crumble.”
Corl said it is imperative that the project be undertaken as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration.
“Waiting even just a couple of years to fix roads would result in a dramatic increase in costs,” he said.
The final budget was passed at the town’s Oct. 24 board meeting, thus avoiding last year’s last-minute Sunday afternoon debacle in which the board had to call a special weekend meeting in order to pass the budget in time for the state’s deadline.
“We wanted to get ours passed prior to Election Day,” Corl said. “I’d like to set that trend of passing it early like the county does. I think that’s better for our constituents.”
The full budget is available at ciceronewyork.net.
Town of Clay
The town of Clay, meanwhile, approved its budget at its Nov. 7 board meeting, just after Election Day. The $12,826,529 budget represents an increase of $826,309 from 2012, but it is down $109,390 from 2011. Residents in the town will pay an additional $13.78 per $100,000 of assessed value for a house outside the village of North Syracuse, which amounts to about $1.17 a month. Those inside the village will pay an additional $4.43 per $100,000 of assessed value, or less than $0.50 per month.
“We got under the tax cap, so that’s very positive, and we did that largely by tweaking our special district budgets,” said Supervisor Damian Ulatowski.” We did a lot of consolidations to those earlier this year. For example, our hydrant districts, we got down from 67 to 1. We were able to save some money there.”
Ulatowski gave credit to the fire districts that work with the town of Clay for keeping costs low.
“What I think is really important to point out to the public is that, for the second year in a row, all of our fire districts came in with a 0 percent increase,” he said. “They recognize the sensitivity of the tax impact, so they really sharpened their pencils and came to the table, which we really appreciate. They deserve to be recognized for that.”
The full budget is available at townofclay.org.
Town of Salina
The town of Salina passed its final budget at its board meeting Nov. 13.
“With the challenging financial times, Salina continues to keep a watchful eye on the bottom line while maintaining the services residents expect,” said Salina Supervisor Mark Nicotra in a release.
The budget increases taxes by a nominal amount. The increase will require a homeowner in the town with a home assessed at $100,000 to pay an additional $1.25 in taxes per month next year, or $15 a year, and a homeowner in the village with a $100,000 valued home to pay an additional 88 cents per month next year, equaling $10.56 annually.
“Because of the tremendous cooperation between town board members, the 2013 budget impact is far less than when the 2013 budget was first presented,” Nicotra said. “When town board members work together, all the residents of Salina benefit.”
A full budget is available at salina.ny.us.
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.