A brief note on the budget vote last night. The Board has concluded the two month process of reviewing the budget submitted by the Village Manager (Fran Frobel) who, in turn, has spent the previous three months gathering, reviewing and consolidating the Village municipal budget.
We will not be raising taxes this year - our tax increase will be 0.0%, While our budget expenditures increased roughly 2.5%, our Tax Levy increase was less then 1% (well under the allotted amount NYS had capped us at) and our assessments increased by 1% for the first time in over a decade. One of the biggest increases in our budget were pensions at $146,500, but generally most departments saw little increase or decrease.
Our single biggest decrease in expenditures was our fire hydrant rental expense, which dropped by $230,000. This expense will be showing up, in part, on your water bill. The Village, last year, passed a resolution that moved the hydrant expense onto all water bills within the Village. The Board of Trustees believed this would be more equitable because all users of the water supply system, including non-profits, commercial establishments and schools would carry their fair share of this burden. As a result, your water bill is likely to go up, but much less than the savings in your local tax bill since the expense will be more broadly shared.
This budget is as tight as any in the last few years, and brings us within striking range of completing our effort to re-establish a reserve fund of 10% of our annual expenditures. This level of a reserve fund will lower our borrowing expense and allow us to turn our attention to addressing a backlog of capital expenditures which have accumulated over the last five years as we addressed our fiscal issues during the tough economic times. We are now in the strongest budget position we have been in over fifteen years - and well-positioned to maintain ourselves within the State-imposed tax cap while finally addressing needs all around us in the Village.
Thanks must go to Village Manager Fran Frobel and Assistant Treasurer Rafael Zaratzian. They've been instrumental in ensuring we hit our goals of cost control and a full reserve fund. Trustee Niki Armacost has risen to her annual role of budget maven, helping to guide the Board through the process and wielding a skeptical eye and sharp pencil. She has been core to structuring the budget review and has fearlessly pursued a process that deserves the gratitude of Village residents. She defines the term "Trustee" in this process, entrusted with overseeing the budgetary monies.
We can boast, by far, the lowest tax levy increase of all Villages in the Rivertowns. (Even accounting for moving the hydrant rental off-budget, we would have been the lowest.) This is something the Board is proud of, and we thank all Village employees for hewing carefully to standards set. It serves all of us well.