Fredonia feeling tax cap pinch in budget

New York state’s tax cap law has left the village of Fredonia with what officials are calling a minuscule amount of room to budge in next year’s budget if no override is approved.

During Tuesday’s village board workshop, Administrator Richard St. George presented an initial draft of the 2014-2015 budget. The board reviewed it line by line to see any and all changes from last year and begin to consider where it can cut funds.

“I did a preliminary calculation of the tax cap, so our tax cap is the maximum you can raise it, and that number is 71 cents per thousand dollars (of assessed value),” St. George explained, adding that number includes a rollover from last year of about $5,900. “That’s all we have to work with. That’s basically nothing.”

The 71 cents translates to $58,491.53 in the budget.

St. George told the board it can override the tax cap, but must do so after a public hearing and four “yes” votes.

“That does not mean you have to exceed the tax cap, but at least you have it on record that you passed a local law, just in case you need it,” he said. “If you exceeded it, you would need to take the amount you exceeded the tax cap by and … refund that the following year, so next year you would have to rebate that as part of any tax increase you have in the village.”

There is a loss of about $933,000 in the preliminary general fund budget, meaning projected expenditures exceed projected receipts.

St. George said as a result, there is a lot of catching up and cutting to do to offset that loss.

Mayor Stephen Keefe must present his budget proposal to the board by March 20.

Also during the workshop, Trustee Janel Subjack announced a request for proposals for a new village website is being readied for the board to vote upon.

“I got the RFP in to Rick (St. George), and then (Trustee) Phyllis (Jones) and I need to review it, and then it’ll be ready to go,” she said.

The village does not maintain a website due to the previous one crashing over a year ago. Since then, complaints over a lack of transparency and information have surfaced, both on the board and within the public. Some board members previously stated they will support funding a new website once it is budgeted.

St. George said the planning board will attend the first meeting in March to present an update on the proposed comprehensive plan update, which the planning board was asked to review before adoption.

“I know they want a couple things done, one of which is they want the demographics updated before the board formally accepts the plan,” he said. “And then, the mayor was talking about breaking in the Complete Streets program (into the plan), which the engineers said there’s a minimal charge for doing that. Anywhere from $800 to $1,000 (to do both).”

The next meeting is Monday at 7:30 p.m., with a workshop at 6:30 p.m.

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