By ANDY GARDNER
MASSENA – On a 3 – 1 vote, the Village Board of Trustees adopted a 2014-2015 budget that calls for a 4.75-percent tax increase.
The final tax rate, at 100-percent equalization, is $14.99 per $1,000 of assessed value. This means the owner of a property assessed at $50,000 will be billed $749.50 and the owner of a $100,000 property will have to pay $1,499.
The sole dissenting vote was Trustee Albert “Herb” Deshaies. He felt the tax levy could be trimmed even further.
“I stand by what I said before. Let everything go back to the department heads and knock 5 percent off their budgets. That will get us around [a 4-percent increase],” he said. “It’s too much … they’ve got to cut some more, I’m sure there’s more to be had.”
He said he is concerned because of the large percentage of Massena’s citizens who are retirees and on a fixed income.
“It’s an older community, and the school budget’s coming up,” Deshaies said.
Total spending under the new plan will total $8,891,888. Taxes will raise $5,440,422 of that.
Village Treasurer Julie Sharlow said new cuts include taking $38,000 from the Department of Public Works, including slashing the snow removal contractual and street cleaning personnel line items by $10,000 each.
Police contractual services also lost $5,000.
Sharlow said $11,800 in revenue was added because of state grants to the police department.
Mayor James Hidy said he is satisfied with the new spending blueprint.
“I’m very happy with it,” he said, adding that a lot of their troubles in crafting the new budget was due to uncontrolled expenses including health insurance and workman’s compensation.
He lauded the efforts of department heads with making deeper cut when asked after a budget work session last week.
“The department heads did a marvelous job of coming back one more time … to see what they could cut while not impacting services to the community,” Hidy said. “I commend Julie Sharlow for her due diligence through the whole process.”
The mayor’s first budget draft called for a 9.7-percent tax hike. They were able to whittle it down by making cuts to the street construction fund, the Business Development Corporation, the joint recreation budget and the village police department.