Dec 01, 2010 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
The Camillus village board approved its 2011 budget – with $1.02 million total spending – at a special meeting held Monday Nov. 29.
Mayor Michael Montero and trustees Bridget Yule, James Palumbo and Bill Cody voted in favor while trustee Anne Clancy voted against.
The approved tax rate increased by $.42 per $1,000 assessed value from the public hearing held Nov. 9 – bringing the rate to $6.60 per $1,000. Montero said the number had to be raised because the town had miscalculated the village’s assessed value at $40 million – $3 million short of its actual value. Residents will still see a decrease in their property taxes, as the county lowered its rate by $1.34 per $1,000 this year.
The village board borrowed $20,000 from its unexpended fund balance of $120,000 to keep the tax rate from going any higher. Montero said the village was faced with losses of $80,000 in county sales tax revenue and $3,000 in state aid.
Clancy felt there wasn’t enough money in the proposed budget to account for potential losses of revenue.
“As we speak the state legislature is trying to find another $300 million in their budget, and one of the things to be discussed is the AIM (Aid and Incentives to Municipalities) program, which is $27,000 of our revenue, which may disappear,” Clancy said.
She also felt the village board should consider risk factors related to the age of the village’s infrastructure, further noting the village’s low elevation and potential for flooding.
“Nobody really even knows how North Street was built … because all of those plans caught on fire years ago,” she said. “If that ever caves in, that could be a huge problem.”
Before passing the budget, the village board moved $3,000 from engineering to sidewalk repairs, Montero noting that if there’s no money for projects, why budget for an engineer to draw up plans?
Village signs on for consolidation study
The board’s discussion of its “barebones” budget led right into another discussion – whether to take part in a county-funded study to determine the economic ramifications of consolidation.
The board unanimously approved the motion made by Clancy.
“In light of all the petition-happy villages, it’s just nice to know the information before something like that happens, especially with the new law that is in place,” Montero said. “It’s just the right thing to do.”
The new law, signed in June 2009 by Governor Patterson, allows both municipal governing bodies and the voters the power to initiate dissolution – the latter by petition.
Montero said the study would tell the village one of two things: “It’s going to cost you more money no matter what you do, or you’re going save,” he said.
Montero had spoken with Onondaga County Comptroller Robert Antonacci.
“Mr. Antonacci is more than willing to come down here and look at our financials to give us a very accurate report as to what we’re looking at,” he said.
Trustees expressed concern that the village couldn’t provide general services to its residents without raising the tax rate an obscene amount, Montero noting that property tax is the village’s only avenue for revenue. The main service provided by the village is trash pickup, Montero said.
“We’re paying minimal salaries to people and we’re not putting out services,” Palumbo said.
Say the study determines that the village would save money by consolidating – what then?
“If they say there’s going to be a savings of 100 bucks, then that really begs the issue, do you really do it?” Montero said. “But if they say, ‘Listen, people are going to save $800,’ you really have to present that information to the public and allow them to look at it.”
Montero continued: “I told them I want to know if there’s a savings, even if it’s a dollar – or if there’s no savings.”