SCOTIA – A 7.2% proposed increase in the village’s tax rate is largely due to a rise in state pension funds, according to village Mayor Tom Gifford.
“That amounts to almost 5% of the tax increase,” he said.
The 2021-22 budget is anticipated to be introduced to residents at Tuesdays Village Board meeting, where the village will also vote to override the state’s tax cap.
Scotia isn’t the only village facing pension increases though, municipalities across the state are, said Peter A. Baynes, the executive director of the New York State Conference of Mayors, which serves cities and villages.
“Since municipal services are largely provided by public employees, the largest component of any local government budget is personnel costs, including pension benefits,” Baynes said. “For the pension bills that are due in December 2021, the state Comptroller has announced a significant increase in the billing rates resulting from the delayed impact of the initial drop in the stock market in March 2020. The bills sent by the Retirement System in the fall of 2021 will be based on the value of the pension fund on March 31, 2020. The cost of funding pensions for non-uniformed employees has risen by 11% and for uniformed employees bills are up by 14%.”
Gifford said the other 2% increase is made up of contractual raises from all three unions in the village and general cost increases.
The increase in the proposed tax rate is about $1 – from $13.79 to $14.78.
“My taxes on my house will go up something like $10 a month,” Gifford said.
The budget will increase spending 2.8% from $9.7 million to $10 million and the tax levy will increase 7.5% to $5.6 million from $5.2 million.
Gifford said department heads were told to create a budget that continued services at as low of a cost as possible. He said department heads came back with effective operating budgets. He also said the board has discussed what items could be cut, but that “most things we could cut would be unpopular.”
Gifford said people like having the roads plowed and salted in a timely manner and a cut in personnel could mean more overtime, which would result in no savings in the long run.
He said part of the village’s budget problems is because there are no large revenue sources.
“We are doing long-term studies on how we can get revenue sources,” Gifford said.
He said the Village Board plans to hold a public hearing and vote on the budget at its May meeting.