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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, April 2, 2009
As revenues recede, Voorheesville plans $1.9M budget with 3% tax hike
By Philippa Stasiuk
VOORHEESVILLE As county sales tax revenues decline and interest rates fall, Voorheesville is planning a $1.9 million budget for next year that would raise property taxes 3 percent to close the gap. The tax rate will rise to $1.05 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Trustee David Cardona, the budget officer for the village, presented a preliminary spending plan for the coming fiscal year at a workshop prior to the March 24 village board meeting. Next year’s budget is just a few thousand dollars more than this year’s.
The board is slated to adopt the budget on May 28 and there will be an organizational meeting on April 6 at 6 p.m. at the village hall followed by a public hearing at 6:30 at which time, according to Cardona, “anyone who wants to come in and look at the budget, it’s a great time to do so.”
Cardona, who worked on the budget with Treasurer Linda Pasquale and Village Clerk Karen Finnessey, admitted that, although he would have liked to raise the taxes higher in order to better cover the gap between income and expenditures, he had heeded Mayor Robert Conway’s wishes to raise Voorheesville’s taxes as little as possible.
“The hardest thing about this budget was estimating what our revenues will be,” Cardona told The Enterprise this week. “We know so many things will be down: bank interest, mortgage taxes, and sales taxes. By how much? It’s difficult to gauge. Predicting conservatively was our greatest challenge.”
The largest portion of Voorheesville’s yearly revenues comes from the Albany County sales tax. The county collects the sales tax and redistributes it to municipalities based on population. In December, there was a marked dip in revenues as compared to the previous year.
Last year, according to Cardona, Voorheesville budgeted for $820,000 in revenues from the sales tax but will receive $895,000 at the end of the fiscal year in May. However, taking into account the last quarter of 2008 when the sales tax dipped 7.5 percent over fourth quarter of 2007, Cardona said that Voorheesville’s 2009-10 budget factors in a 10-percent decrease in the sales tax, which is listed at $800,000.
While the budget’s expenditures remain almost the same from this year to next year, the estimated revenues are expected to fall across the board. The interest on the village’s savings accounts dropped dramatically, reflecting a dip of between 67 and 88 percent on the village’s various savings accounts.
Most of the items on the budget’s expenditures remained fairly steady although the amount requested for sand and salt increased 50 percent to $45,000. Cardona said that the village is not using more sand than prior years, nor have they changed suppliers. The increased amount simply reflects the fact that “for salt and sand, prices went through the roof.”
Although the 2009-10 budget for garbage pickup reflects a 4-percent increase to $72,000, Cardona and Pasquale made a point at the workshop of reminding the trustees that the village’s garbage contract goes only through May of 2011. Pasquale told the board to “plan on at least doubling” the amount the village will have to pay once the contract goes out to bid. Mayor Conway added that “the biggest unknown is the ongoing discussion on the Rapp Road landfill,” which is the destination of Voorheesville’s garbage. (See related story.)
One of the unresolved items in this year’s budget is the fireworks for the Memorial Day Parade. In years’ past, Nichols’ Supermarket paid for the fireworks, which amounted to around $5,000. However, Hannaford, which now owns the market, is unable to commit to that amount for the 2009 parade, although Cardona said Hannaford has offered to donate an unspecified amount towards the festivities.
During the board’s pre-meeting discussion last Wednesday, Cardona suggested that, because the board is unable to raise money for the fireworks itself, that it approach an organization such as Kiwanis to help fund-raise from area businesses and private donors.
Conway said that the community should be involved in gathering the needed money because “people talk about the fireworks all year,” and that they had “become part of the Voorheesville culture.”
Cardona later reiterated the pre-meeting sentiment of the board, which was that trustees would be contacting fund-raising groups to see if they are interested in helping to sponsor the endeavor. “The fireworks are tremendous, but we can’t cut everything else in the budget and spend money on fireworks,” said Cardona.
The money for the men’s summer basketball league was also chopped for next year. Although the league will still exist, the village will not sponsor it. This shaves about $1,000 off of the budget. Cardona said that the village stopped sponsoring the league because the majority of players were from outside the village and “we didn’t feel that we could take village tax dollars to pay for services for people who live outside the village.”