Mayor William Murphy is confident that the $2.28 million proposed 2014-15 spending plan will not include a tax hike.
A public hearing will be held at the April 17 meeting at 7 p.m. in the village firehouse at 43 Partition St.
“This year is the culmination of a five-year plan I developed when I first became mayor,” Murphy explained during a recent discussion about the budget. “It’s something I learned from Mayor Bob Yerick,” Murphy said of the man who preceded him.
“My plan, at the time, was to lower and try to keep tax increases at zero percent because of the police merger,” Murphy added. “And each year I have done that.”
Because of the merger, which saw the town police department absorb the village force, the village had to pay the town $208,000 during each of the first two years of the merger to help offset the town’s increased costs.
Now that those payments have ended, Murphy said he is making sure that village taxpayers are seeing the savings promised when the merger took place.
Murphy’s first year in office, property tax was reduced by 20 percent from the previous year. The second year it was reduced by 12 percent and for the last two years, and this year, it has remained flat.
Two years ago the budget was $3.1 million, last year it was $2.27 million and this year it has increased to $2.28 million. The mayor said he expects the budget to increase by a few more dollars before passage.
Murphy said one of the increases will be $3,000 for the replacement of the fence that runs along the front of Seamon Park. Total cost for the fence replacement is estimated to be $6,000, of which $3,000 will come from the village and $3,000 from a donation by the Kiwanis Club.
One of the largest cuts in this year’s budget from last year is a reduction of engineering costs by $10,000. Murphy explained that last year, the additional funds were needed because of problems with the village’s sewer lines, a section of which collapsed on upper Partition St. “All the engineering has been done, so we no longer need to fund the engineering line item and were able to reduce it from $50,000 last year to $40,000 this year,” Murphy said.
One item that was left out of this year’s proposed budget, which the mayor promises to make up in coming years, is financing for the purchase of a new fire truck.
A pumper truck at the C.A. Lynch Fire Company on East Bridge St. is quite old and the fire department is asking that it be replaced. Trustees were hoping to get either grants or financial assistance from the state or federal government, but none was forthcoming, so they will have to fund the purchase on their own.
Trustee Donald Hackett, who serves as the board’s liaison to the fire department, said firefighters have estimated the cost of a new truck at about $550,000, “but we are hoping to be able to maybe get a demo model at $350,000.”
“We know they need it,” Murphy said, “but we want to be able to do it with the least impact on taxpayers.”
He said that over the next few years, he would put some money in the budget each year so that when the truck is purchased it won’t have as big an effect on taxpayers as it would have had if all the money had been put into the budget in one year.
And while not everything could be financed in this budget, Murphy said he did set aside $30,000 for new equipment for village playgrounds.
Last year, the village’s liability insurance carrier inspected all of the village-owned playgrounds, and though the initial condemnation of the majority of the equipment was later revised, it was still concluded that many items were unsafe.
George Terpening, supervisor of Parks, Buildings and Grounds and responsible for the playgrounds, did not spend $15,000 in last year’s budget. They mayor said he added an additional $15,000 to this year’s parks’ line item so that Terpening can purchase $30,000 of new equipment for the kids this year.