Forestville village board approves 112 percent tax increase

FORESTVILLE – For some, a 112 percent increase in the village of Forestville’s tax rate is a victory, for others it was not acceptable.

The Forestville Village Board gathered for a special meeting Tuesday in order to vote on the budget and the $150,000 loan from the Chautauqua County Legislature.

The board previously proposed a budget with a 445 percent increase in the tax rate. This was primarily driven by two loans coming due; $250,000 for a building demolition and $150,000 for a waterline on Bennett State Road.

At its most recent meeting, the county legislature voted to aid Forestville with a $150,000 loan for the waterline over a five year period at 3 percent interest. It did not approve giving the village $87,344 for tipping fees from the demolition in exchange for 14 years of landfill credits. The county required the village take part in a task force to explore the viability of the village, submit to an audit by the state Comptroller’s Office of the past five year’s finances and explore funding for a study of dissolving the village.

The board unanimously voted to approve the loan from the county.

The board also voted on the proposed 2014-2015 adjusted budget which came in with a tax rate of $10.87 per thousand assessed value, just over double the $5.13 tax rate of 2013-2014.

This would mean an increase of $287 on a home assessed at $50,000 or $574 on a $100,000 home.

Board members Brian Schneider, Gary Belote, David McEntarfer and Mayor Kevin Johnson voted to approve the budget. Trustee Margaret “Mindy” Borrello voted against the 112 percent increase.

“I think this community has a lot of seniors on fixed incomes. The people I spoke with can’t afford a double tax increase,” she said, after the meeting.

“We are down from 445 percent and that’s good, but people said they can’t afford double,” Borrello said.

Johnson said he was glad the village did not have a 445 percent increase.

“I am much happier with this than the first proposed budget. It is still a big increase, but it is much more manageable. I am very grateful to County Executive Vince Horrigan and Legislator George Borrello. Without their help we would not have been able to get to where we are at now,” he said.

The board unanimously voted to have all unpaid taxes and water bills levied by the county after May 20.

Resident Gary Williams asked if after the five years of the county loan, taxes would go back down.

“Once the loan is paid, it’s paid,” Johnson explained. “But there are some things that have never been done here that we are going to put in place. We promised the county we would have a fiscal plan in place to prove the village is sustainable.”

Johnson added that he does not know details about when the task force will meet but suspects it will be after the audit by the comptroller’s office.

Another concerned citizen, who wished not to be identified, was seeking the needed 88 signatures of voting residents in order to have a public referendum on dissolving the village. He said he wants to save the village thousands on the study.

The board will meet again on May 13 at 7 p.m.