FORESTVILLE VILLAGE EYES 445% TAX HIKE

FORESTVILLE – Four-hundred and forty-five percent is unfathomable, especially when that number is a tax increase.

The Forestville Village Board warned that the 2014-2015 budget year would see an increase, but to what extent was not made clear until Thursday night.

At a special meeting, it was announced the tax rate, which is currently at $5.13 per thousand assessed value, is proposed to be $27.97 per thousand in 2014-2015.

The proposed tax levy increased from $100,559 in 2013-2014 to $554,559. The difference for taxpayers owning a home assessed at $50,000 would be $256.50 this year compared to $1,398.50 in 2014-2015.

“The budget has been balanced with several notable exceptions that resulted in the massive tax rate increase. If this proposed budget is adopted as it stands, combined with the school, town and county taxes, Forestville will most likely have the highest property tax in New York state and one of the highest in the nation,” Mayor-Elect Kevin Johnson said.

The budget was put together by a committee including Johnson, Trustee Ron Lineman, Clerk/Treasurer James White and three public volunteers Dave McEntarfer and trustee-elects Brian Schneider and Gary Belote.

White explained the four “notable exceptions” include the $247,000 demolition debt repayment, $12,000 in interest on that debt, $150,000 from the Bennett State Road waterline bond anticipation note and $46,000 to replace the fire hall roof.

The demolition BAN would reach its five-year maturity in November, but because of an unfulfilled conversion to a revenue anticipation note, the debt is considered delinquent.

White noted that because the demolition debt and the Bennett State Road waterline BAN are with the same bank, the bank has refused to renew the waterline BAN, effectively making that debt due this fiscal year.

The village marked this as an interfund transfer where the money would be raised by taxes to pay the debt as a loan to the water fund, which will be repaid by water district customers.

The board has received several reports of an increasing number of leaks at the fire hall and the need for the 40-year-old roof to be replaced. White said this budgeted amount was based on informal quotes.

White added that there have been changes made to the budget to make line items more specific and to correct previously hourly employees to salary. He said because of this, if it were not for the debts and the roof replacement, the village budget would be almost the same amount as last year.

“It’s ugly but we are hoping it will get better,” Johnson said. “It is what it is.”

Johnson said there are several unknowns still in determining the final budget figures. In addition to possible revenue from the sale of the Arkwright springs property and timber, the village is still in negotiations with the bank about its debt.

“The numbers you are looking at now is the worst-case scenario,” Attorney Michael Sullivan said.

All four of the major expenses in the budget are expected to create this significant tax increase for only one year and village officials have expressed that it is intended the tax rate will go back down after the 2014-2015 year.

The board set the public hearing on the budget for its regular meeting April 8 at 7 p.m. The budget is available for the public to view in the clerk’s office.

The board will hold its reorganizational meeting April 7 at 7 p.m.

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