Numbers crunching nearing end in Fredonia

It’s getting down to crunch time for members of the Fredonia Village Board as they continue their review of Mayor Stephen Keefe’s proposal for spending in the next budget year. The board has until the end of April to finalize the budget for its next fiscal year, which runs from May 1 to April 30, 2014.

Three board members, Marc Ruckman, Phyllis Jones and Susan Mackay, were present to hear Village Administrator Rick St. George continue the review and make adjustments the board calls for. The officials were eventually joined in the 80-minute session by Mayor Stephen Keefe and Streets Commissioner Jack Boland.

Keefe officially submitted his budget March 18 and the board has been whittling away at the General Fund number Keefe proposed.

Through Monday, the board had cut Keefe’s $6,149,514 proposal to $6,029,708, a drop of $119,806. Part of that came from adjusting funds paid to seasonal and part-time workers as Keefe budgeted for a minimum wage of $9 per hour, while the minimum wage will go up to $8 per hour the first year, according to the law passed by the state.

“Anything you want to go back and revisit, that’s what we’ll do. We’ve been through this budget at least twice and some cases more,” St. George told those present as the meeting wound down.

Mackay said there were a few items to be revisited, including village memberships, community development and Chadwick Bay. In addition, members were interested in more information on the fire department’s budget.

Keefe’s budget proposal called for a $1.08 tax increase per $1,000 of assessed valuation, a 3.3 percent hike over the current rate that would have raised the village tax rate to $33.81 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

According to Keefe when he released his proposal, the general fund would have a shortfall of some $458,000 even with the tax increase. The general fund unreserved balance would be tapped for that difference, leaving it with $317,584. There are increases in the other two funds as well, including an increase in the minimum water usage rate from $15 to $25 per billing period and an increase in the minimum sewer rate charge per quarter from $5 to $10. The water fund’s reserves are being tapped for $25,482 to balance that fund, leaving $185,582 in reserve. The sewer fund’s reserves will be hit for $241,884, leaving that fund’s reserve at $267,634.

After the review, Keefe was asked about the changes the board has talked about to his budget.

“So far it looks like they’ve been very responsible,” he replied. “It looks like that we both have our views of what is necessary, … it’s all bare bones. I proposed one budget and they’ve adjusted. I’m pretty happy with what they’re doing right now.”

The village is required to submit its budget to the state by April 30 and Keefe said that date would be met.

“We’re going to do it in a timely fashion and right now we’re in pretty good shape, all considered,” he added. Keefe said the state passing its budget on time has been a help as well.

The board is scheduled to meet today at 5:30 p.m. in Village Hall to wrap up its work on the 2013-14 budget.

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