Published in Trumansburg Free Press March 31, 2004
|Board of Trustees Discuss the
by Bill Chaisson
The 2004-2005 village budget passed through its first round on the chopping block last night and $11,900 was trimmed away. However, a total of $62,000 must be excised in order to achieve a balanced budget. Most of the 8% rise in the budget over last year is due to increases in insurance costs and required payments to the state pension fund. Also, village employees are customarily given 3% cost-of-living salary increases. Revenues are assumed to be essentially flat, because the increase in property tax revenue based on the new assessment will not have an effect until next year. Therefore some cuts must be made in order to balance the budget.
Before the budget discussion began Mayor Rod Ferrentino took the time to thank Trustees Mark Rich and Rick Willers for their service. "I really enjoyed working with you two. We solved a lot of problems", said Ferrentino with feeling. He then gestured to Trustees-elect Mary Bouchard and John Hrubos, who were seated in the audience, and acknowledged that this meeting represented an "awkward moment", as the composition of the board would be changing in the middle of the budget process. The new board members will assume their seats on April 5, when the budget discussion will continue. The new budget must be adopted by April 24. It is the mayorís intention that Trustee-elect Bouchard receive a 'crash course' from Clerk Treasurer Carolyn Bennett in the economics of the village budget. Bouchard is an auditor for Cornell University and a CPA; she will be taking a week's vacation from her job to get acquainted with the intricacies of Trumansburg finances.
The issue of the Main Street Projectís fiscal effect on the budget was not addressed because Duane Shoen, the representative of the accounting firm Ciaschi, Dietershagen, Little, Mickelson & Company, LLP, could not be present. Three years ago funds for the project were supposed to be transferred to a capital improvement fund. According to Clerk and Treasurer Carolyn Bennett, the item was "budgeted and unbudgeted" and the transfer was never actually made.
At the March 22 meeting all departments made their budget requests and an item by item review was begun. Trustee John Levine briefed the mayor (who was not present on March 22) on the progress thus far and review was resumed with a discussion about the Department of Public Works budget. The DPW has requested the creation of a merit payment system. Trustee Carl Potter opposed the idea, noting that such systems can cause hard feelings among employees. Trustee-elect John Hrubos, weighing in from the audience, supported the scheme, arguing that it is a supervisor's responsibility to determine who deserves additional compensation. Trustee Potter commented that "all [employees] think they work hard". The cost of garbage removal was left unresolved, as bids for a
|new contract have not yet come
in. Mayor Ferrentino recalled with explicit pleasure that when he
started on the board the cost of trash removal was $32,000 and that over
the years through competitive bidding the price had come down to $10,000.
Several items related to the fire department and youth
programs were passed over quickly because the costs are fixed. Agreements
are already in place with several towns and the county; their fiscal years
have already begun. The Trumansburg budget numbers must be adjusted
to accommodate these prior commitments. Another quick decision involved
the matter of raising the salaries for the Board of Trustees and the Mayor.
These increases were refused, as is usual. Trustee John Levine declined
to receive his trusteeís salary, but will accept the mayorís salary because
he "plans to do a fair amount of work" when he assumes that office after
Mayor Ferrentino's imminent retirement.
Savings were found in several places. Some cuts were suggested in the zoning budget, but in the absence of Zoning Officer Doug Austic, they were not finalized. Former trustee Marty Luster had intended to look into the establishment of historical preservation districts, but no one is interested in following up on the idea and the $500 allotted for the study was zeroed out. No one present could remember exactly why $800 had been allotted for parks and the item was zeroed out. The town library had requested a $6000 contribution from the village, but the board voted to reduce the contribution $1000 from last year's allotment to $3500.
In the revenue column water and sewer rates came under
discussion. The village has paid $80,000 to the county to increase
the strength of the Jacksonville water pump in order to pump water up to
Trumansburg. The village is required to have a secondary water source.
In addition, the village must prepare to service the debt that will be
acquired for construction of the new water tower. In light of these
expenses, Trustee John Levine proposed proactively raising the water rate
5% to reduce the size of necessary future increases. This would amount
to an average of an additional $20 per household per year. After
some number crunching and input from other trustees and the mayor it was
decided to raise the water rate 2% and decrease the sewer rate 2%.
The latter is possible because of declining service on existing debt and
expected savings from newly installed technology.
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Last revised: May 11, 2005