B y Derek Liebig
Village taxes are expected to increase slightly after the Whitehall Village Board adopted the 2011-12 budget during a brief meeting Tuesday afternoon.
The board recommended the hike in taxes to help offset a decrease in revenue generated by assessments.
The budget calls for a tax levy (the amount of money generated by tax) of $1,558,624.47, raising the tax rate from $16.93 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $17.67, an increase of .74 cents or approximately 4.4%.
Water rates for the year remain unchanged while sewer rates will increase.
Board members were hesitant to increase taxes but were left with little choice.
“I’d like to see zero but that’s impractical,” Mayor Peter Telisky said.
“We did the best we could with what we had,” village trustee Ken Bartholomew added.
Whitehall’s tax rate remains the highest in the county while conversely appraisals remain the lowest.
“There are less people to pay more and that’s a problem,” Telisky said. “The issue was assessments.”
This year’s total assessment was $88,228,116 while last year’s total assessment was $92,845,143, a decrease of $4,617,027.
Board members said they hope to work on improving assessments in the village during the next year in hopes of creating additional revenue for the village.
“We need to work on fixing our assessments,” Telisky said.
Telisky said there was between a $23,000 and $24,000 increase in expenditures from last year, but the board did a great job of cutting as much as that from the budget as they could.
“We worked hard to keep it as low as possible,” said village clerk Stephanie LaChapelle.
Village Trustee Bartholomew cut approximately $13,000 from water and sewer expenditures, departments he oversees; while trustee Walt Sanford worked with police Chief Matt Dickinson to cut nearly $19,000 from the police department’s budget.
“We cut everything we could,” said trustee Mike LaChapelle.
Sewer rates will increase 11% because of a $27,243 increase in sewer fund appropriations.
Overall the budget calls for $1,806,794.41 in appropriations (down from $1,856,805.41 last year), $172,949 in revenues (a decrease of $32,753), $10,220.94 in omitted taxes (a decrease of $3700.58) and $65,000 from the appropriated fund balance, the same amount as last year.
The budget was approved unanimously.