Village eyes 3% tax hike

Zero base/sum workshops yield 2.95 increase

The Granville village board expects to present to the public a budget with a nearly three percent increase in village taxes when they hold their monthly meeting on Monday, March 2.

Mayor Jay Niles said Thursday the $1.29 million spending plan proposed for the 2009-10 fiscal year would result in an increase in village taxes of approximately 2.95 percent, without the use of fund balance.

“We had to make some decisions on what we really need to do and build our needs rather than assume what they were,” he said.

The process had been ongoing, Niles said, but offered an example of how each item was looked at.

The village had budgeted and spent $1,800 on carpet cleaning services at the village hall the previous year. After determining the amount had to be reduced to $1,200, Niles said the provider of that service was approached.

“We said this is all we can spend on carpet cleaning – how can we work this out?” he said.

The provider came back with a modified schedule that met the village’s budget mark.

Niles said the village had already made a similar move when it put insurance coverage out to bid previously.

Spending for insurance premiums will dip $500 in 2009-10.

Offsetting losses in both state aid and interest income were savings yielded by the movement of fire and building code enforcement duties to the county, a move saving the village nearly $6,000.

Village clerk Rick Roberts said every $9,300 is equal to one percent of the budget.

The stipend for the part time position with no benefits is $3500 versus $9350 spent in 2008-09 for former code officer Ed Harrington.

Niles said an increase in the valuation of the village and hard work on the budget by the board and department heads yielded a budget rising at less than the rate of inflation.

Niles credits ‘zero base’ budgeting with the success of this budget.

“This (process) gives you a real, true understanding of your budget expenses,” Niles said.

Using this process, Niles said every line item is examined to see not only what is necessary, but also what realistic real-world changes are taking place with those items.

The cost of salt, for example, did not increase by 5 or even 10 percent. Its cost, on state contract, surged by 50 percent from $41 per ton to $61 for the 400 tons used annually. The increase of $15,500 is reflected in the street maintenance line of the budget, but had to come out elsewhere.

State highway aid for the village, CHIPS funding, will drop 43 percent or $7,187 for this budget cycle.  

Niles said to offset this reduction, the village will be forced to do less paving and road repair, dropping funds budgeted by $6,500.

“One of our other goals is to maintain that level of support to community organizations that are dependant on our funding,” Niles said. The Pember Library and Museum, Slate Valley Museum, seniors, youth programs and fire department funding remaining intact, with fire department funding seeing a slight increase, Niles said.

Because it is something that draws people into the village, Niles said the summer concert series funding remains in the budget as well. The concert series receives funding from a contribution from the Town of Granville and a grant from the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council, LARAC.

The budget will be presented at the March 2 meeting of the village board and then cannot be changed until after the public hearing at the April meeting, at which time Niles said he expected the budget to be adopted following consideration of public input. 

“The budget in 2009-10 is in the same spirit that we’ve had over the past eight years with a reasonable tax rate levy increase of less than 3 percent. We’re going to continue to do so for next few years barring any unforeseen emergencies,” Niles said.

“We’re pleased we were able to keep (the budget) under the rate of inflation,” Roberts said. “This one was a real challenge, it was much tough than it was in the past.”

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