Tivoli’s tentative budget holds 6.19% tax hike

It’s budget season again, and time for “first draft” village budgets to be compiled and released to the public.

In the Village of Tivoli, the 2014-2015 tentative budget stands at $775,726, an increase of $38,288 from 2013-2014’s $737,438. As with Red Hook and Rhinebeck, the fiscal year starts on June 1.

The tentative budget would raise the property tax levy by 6.19 percent and would collect $457,262 in taxes, an increase of $26,645. Last year’s tax levy increase was 2.6 percent.

According to a budget memo from Mayor Bryan Cranna on the village’s website, the tax increase will cover a projected 30 percent increase in health insurance costs, increases in overtime for the Department of Public Works due to weather-related strain on the general fund, and higher pension costs, among other expenses.

Cranna’s memo also stated that unlike last year’s tentative budget, which was a wish list from all departments and initially raised taxes by 34 percent, this year’s tentative budget should reflect the final budget more realistically.

Significant items in the budget include:

• Restored funding for the annual street painting festival, at $3,340.
• A $700 insurance rider to protect the village from financial responsibility for any future major mechanical failure, which was prompted by the $9,000 repair to the Village Hall elevator that was out of action for the last year.
• $500 for trustee training in Department of Public Works oversight, grant writing, planning, and land use practices.
• Projected pension costs of $46,000.
• A new expense line of $5,000 for costs associated with hosting the library on the first floor of village hall, including wear and tear on the building, village personnel and utility costs and other related items. The library uses the space rent-free.
• A $15,000 match from the village for a $15,000 grant from Hudson Valley Greenway to redesign the sidewalk along Montgomery Street to the river.
• The budget also includes the final $43,056 bond payment for the five-year bond on a $214,000 water system well.

“I believe this budget is a realistic budget and only funds the essential services to keep our village moving forward and ensures that the village has the necessary funding on hand to address unforeseen expenses,” Cranna said in his budget memo. He added that he considers this a “rebuilding year” for Tivoli.

At a budget workshop on March 12, the village board held a public hearing to override the tax levy limit for fiscal year 2014-2015. The law passed without public comment. This override allows the village to adopt a budget that will raise property taxes beyond the state limit of 1.6 percent.

A public hearing on the budget will be held at village hall April 2 and the board plans to adopt the budget at their workshop April 9.

Since the budget is still a work in progress, the board of trustees meeting March 12 covered a far-ranging series of budget items with Cranna and Trustee Susan Ezrati leading the search for more savings and extra revenue.

Ezrati wants the board to look at legal expenses. “It seems like any legal advice I need is never covered,” she said.

The board found that over time the village has collected $49,000 of unused state Department of Transportation CHIPS funding which Cranna wants to use for work on the Route 9G intersection, such as fixing catch basins and adding new signage.

Cranna discussed his recent meeting with the head of the county’s Water and Wastewater Authority. Tivoli is going to do a study on outsourcing its water and sewer systems and Cranna asked about repairing the village’s 1938 water tower.

He said he was told that because of the amount of lead paint on the old water tower, refurbishing will cost $300,000, the same price a new water tower would cost. It will take six months for the study to be completed and the WWA wants to include a few public forums. Cranna said that if the Wastewater Authority does take over the systems, they would have to pay for whatever is done with the water tower.

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