Apr 07, 2014 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
Cazenovia village residents will see their village taxes increase by 19 cents for every $1,000 of assessed value — or 3 percent — under the tentative 2014-15 village budget, which was presented by the village board last week.
The $2.6 million budget, which the board has been working on since February and made available to the public in March, includes a proposed tax levy rate of $6.49 per $1,000, which is a 3 percent increase from last year. The increase means an additional $19 in taxes for a $100,000 home in the village.
Mayor Kurt Wheeler, who gave a brief presentation during a public hearing on the proposed budget, said a few budget highlights were that assessed values were at $160 million, which was a $1.8 million increase from last year, while the village’s estimated sales tax revenue from Madison County was $580,000, an increase of $20,000 from last year.
This year’s proposed tax levy rate of 3 percent, which exceeds the 2 percent state tax levy cap, was decided upon due to the need to pay for state-mandates such as in state retirement system payments and insurance premiums, while also budgeting enough money to pay for needed local services, Wheeler said.
“We try to keep the levy as low as we can and meet what we feel are local needs that residents expect … [and] we created balanced budget with 3 percent levy increase,” he said.
The 3 percent increase also essentially opts out of Governor Cuomo’s “tax freeze” proposal included in the recently passed state budget. That proposal would use state money to refund slight tax increases directly to individual homeowners but only if local governments keep tax increases to under 2 percent and make serious attempts to consolidate services. Cuomo said the tax freeze would be a way to get local governments and schools to share services and thereby cut costs that would lead to lower taxes.
Wheeler called the tax freeze a “gimmick with no meaningful tax relief” that was rather an “unnecessary intrusion on the autonomy of local governments to serve their residents efficiently using their best judgment with their unique knowledge of local needs and circumstances.” He previously signed his name onto a Madison County Board of Supervisors petition to the state “adamantly opposing” the freeze.
Wheeler said the village tax levy rate has been an average 1.6 percent increase per year since 2005. “The village of Cazenovia has been doing a tax cap before the tax cap was cool. It’s called good government; it’s called good budgeting,” he said.
The Madison County Board of Supervisors has estimated that under the governor’s tax freeze proposal, the average county resident will receive $6.85 in rebates, while the governor’s office has not explained exactly what the costs will be for paperwork, administration, postage and lost local autonomy.
“Ironically, [exceeding the tax cap] will probably save taxpayers money overall by opting us out of bureaucratic freeze procedures,” Wheeler said.
After the board’s public budget hearing, during which no members of the public made any questions or comments, the board unanimously approved a local law authorizing the village to exceed the 2 percent tax cap.
The board will vote to formally adopt the 2014-15 village budget at its May 5 meeting. Until then, the village board is still accepting public comments and questions on the budget, which is available for public viewing in the village municipal office.
Also at the meeting, the board:
—Discussed village parking issues and in what ways they could amend the village code to improve village parking. Some possibilities discussed included removing or making seasonal the three spaces added last year to Sullivan Street, which have caused problems for school buses turning onto Emory Avenue because of snow buildup; better monitoring of illegal parking on the connector between Hurd and Street and Emory Avenue, as well as on Hurd Street itself, during after school student pick-ups; and repainting the new handicapped spot in front of the public parking lot at 22 Lincklaen St. to make the spot more obvious. The board invites public comments on the issue of village parking and will discuss it more at its May 5 meeting.
—Approved an inter-municipal agreement with the town of Cazenovia to co-habitate the town and village justice courts in the village municipal building courtroom. The shared services agreement — which is not a consolidation — has been under discussion for a number of months, and was officially put into effect on April 1, said Trustee Fritz Koennecke, who spearheaded the discussions for the village. All village and town court sessions will now take place in the village courtroom.
—Approved the renewal of the inter-municipal agreements with the town of Cazenovia for operation of the boat launch and the boat patrol.
—Heard an update from CACDA on the new GoCaz.com website, which is an online listing of recreational activities and cultural sites in the Cazenovia area. The organization is working to place signs around the village pointing people to trails and other amenities in Cazenovia and sought permission to continue moving forward with planning and signage. The board unanimously agreed.
—Heard from Village Tree Commission Chair and Trustee Amy Mann that the commission will hold its annual Arbor Day observation at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 12, in front of Junior’s Caz Bar on Albany St.
—Heard from Mann, who is also police commissioner, that she and Police Chief Michael Hayes have finished interviewing candidates for two full-time police officer positions in the village police department, and the hiring panel has unanimously selected its two hiring choices. They will now continue to work through the civil service hiring process and hope to announce the hirings in May.
—Approved a resolution to “pledge to combat climate change” by being a Climate Smart Community through improved energy efficiency and recycling.
—Heard from Bill Carr, director of village public works, that spring brush pickup in the village begins this week.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.
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