By ANDY GARDNER
MASSENA -- The Town Council is reviewing a proposed 2014 budget that calls for a 5-percent reduction to the village tax rate and a 14-percent reduction to the town tax rate. A $50,000 piece of property in the village will be taxed $211.50 – which is $19.80 less than last year; a $100,000 piece of property in the town will be taxed $423 – a $67.50 decrease over last year. Overall, the village would levy $230,567.17 less than last year.
The announcement came after passing a local law that would allow the board to raise taxes beyond the 2-percent cap. The public comment hearing prior to the vote drew no comments from the three community members in attendance.
Town spending would total $70,101,755.83 under the proposed budget. Taxes would raise $2,408,158.83 of that, the fund balance will take care of $784,774 of that total, and the remaining $66,908,823 would come from revenues. The largest chunk of that number is Massena Memorial Hospital’s $49,449,446 price tag, which is entirely covered by its incoming revenues and is at no cost to taxpayers.
General fund spending, under the proposed plan, would total $3,732,484. Taxes are slated to cover $1,731,977 of that, the fund balance would pick up $478,592 and revenues will pay for the remaining $1,821,915. In a document Town Supervisor Joe Gray read from, he says he is giving the town councilmen a $1,000 raise. They will now make $6,000 per year.
“Member of the Town Council have not had a raise in over a decade but they are being asked to do more,” he said. “I intend to give each councilman more individual responsibility for certain projects as well as routine portions of the town’s day-to-day operations.”
Gray said although he allocated funding to non-governmental agencies, he wants them to branch out and look for alternative sources of income.
“I believe outside organizations must begin to move away from asking government to bear the cost of increases to their budget and look to additional fund raising and grant opportunities to meet their needs,” Gray wrote.
Meals on Wheels will get $9,500 under the proposed plan compared to $8,100 for 2013. They asked for $14,500. The Massena Museum saw a $4,700 cut over last year’s funding to $15,000. Part of Gray’s decision for the slash is because part of their request was to buy a sign – former town board member Robert Cunningham has offered to provide the sign free of charge. The Senior Citizens’ Center is slated for $4,200 under the proposed spending blueprint, a $600 raise over last year. They requested $5,000. The town is proposing to donate $20,000 to FISHCAP to promote a fishing tourney in the town of Massena. The municipality pledged the same in 2013. Gray said he believes it was “money well-spent” and urged the private sector to follow suit.
“FISHCAP needs to expand, move forward, and become more independent, fiscally and organizationally,” Gray wrote. “I am confident this will happen.”
The highway department would come with a $1,779,401 price tag. Of that, $569,389 will be garnered from taxes, $1,095,012 will be paid for by revenues, and the fund balance will chip in $115,000 rather than the amount coming from property taxes. The spring clean-up project will see a $2,000 reduction in funding over 2013 to $7,000. Gray wrote that the amount should be “more than adequate” since they budgeted $9,000 last year and actually spent $4,281.
The fire protection contract will cost $79,000 which will be raised entirely by taxes. The rate is pending negotiations with the village since the contract expires at the end of the year.
The Massena Electric Department will come with a $12,826,650 budget and the fund balance will contribute $132,450 of that, the rest will come from revenues.
Capital projects will cost $1,125,000. They include four projects at Massena International Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration will pay $992,750 of that, New York state will cover $26,125, and the local share will be $106,125.
“I have budgeted the use of [casino] compact funds received in 2013 … to cover the town’s share of these projects,” Gray ‘s document reads.
The Massena Public Library will cost $714,752, with $656,020 coming from revenues and $58,732 coming out of the fund balance.
The East Massena consolidated water district will cost $91,511.60. Water bill payments will cover $67,230 of that; the remaining $24,281.60 will come from the tax levy.
The Highland/Bucktown Road, South Main Street, and Route 37 sewer districts will take $95,022.83 to fund, $38,670 will come from taxes and the rest from revenues.