Despite holding a public hearing at its last meeting to override the state’s 2 percent property tax cap, the town of Clay may not need to do so.
The Clay Town Board presented its tentative budget at its regular meeting Monday, Oct. 15. The $12,826,529 budget represents an increase of $826,309 from 2012, but it is down $109,390 from 2011.
“This budget includes no new positions and continues a no-frills approach to providing town services,” said Supervisor Damian Ulatowski.
The only increases in the budget come from employee wage increases of $135,638, a 2.5 percent increase negotiated through union contracts, into which the town is locked for the next three years, and pension, health and Social Security benefit increases of $643,650.
Ulatowski said the town had managed to generate “substantial savings” in its 2013 budget. A $500,000 energy grant received last year renovated the town’s highway garage, and the energy efficiency improvements are expected to save the town $3,000 a year. The town also refinanced the bonds issued to finance the construction of the town hall in 2002, generating a savings of $37,500 a year from 2012 to 2027 when the bonds retire — a total of $600,312. Finally, the town has entered into a contract with a firm that will provide school crossing guards privately instead of at the town’s cost.
As a result, the tax impact would be an additional $13.78 per $100,000 of assessed value for a house outside the village of North Syracuse.
“That’s about $1.17 a month more next year,” Ulatowski said. “I’m not certain you can get a loaf of bread for that.”
Within the village, homeowners would pay an additional $4.43 per $100,000 of assessed value, or less than $0.50 per month.
In addition, Ulatowski noted that county taxes will drop by $25 in 2013.
“As a result, residents outside the village will see a reduction of $11.22 to their annual tax bill,” Ulatowski said, “ and village residents will see a drop of $20.57.”
Ulatowski said about $20,000 needed to be cut in order to bring the tax increase under 2 percent.
“We strive to provide best possible services we possibly can,” Ulatowski said. “I can accurately tell you that, although we passed resolution to allow going over tax cap of 2 percent, I’m confident we will be under the tax cap again this year in delivering budget to residents of the town of Clay.”
The budget will be posted on the town’s website, townofclay.org, and made available at the town clerk’s office.
In other business:
The board denied the application of Lakewood Development LLC and Richard and Arlene DeSocio for a zone change from RA-100 Residential Agricultural to R-SR Senior Residence District on property located at 8198 Soule Road.
The parcel, which backs up to Strawberry Farms, would have been developed into an apartment building with 35 units and townhouses. Because the parcel is less than the five acres called for in the R-SR zone, the applicant would have needed a variance to go ahead with the zone change.
“For me, personally, I just thought that the parcel was too small,” Ulatowski said.
In addition, the proposal drew the ire of neighbors, who thanked the board for voting against the zone change.
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.