Village board passes 2011-2012 budget

Geneseo Mayor Richard Hatheway's proposed 2011-2012 village budget was passed in a public meeting of the Village Board of Trustees on Tuesday.

The $2.9 million general fund component includes a 2.5 percent increase to the total property tax levy and a reduction in the tax rate from $6.84 to $6.50 per $100 of assessed property value. The assessed values of many local properties were adjusted upward last year.

While water bills will see an annual minimum increase of $6, sewer bills not be increased as a result of the elimination of a maintenance job position. The water/sewer crew will decrease from five to four personnel and will receive extra support five hours a week from a Department of Public Works employee.

The decision to eliminate the maintenance position was a source of debate at Tuesday's meeting, prompting the Board to allow questions from the public. According to Hatheway, eliminating the position in this year's budget plan does not rule out the possibility of reinstating it in a future year should the Board decide to do so. Board member Thomas LaGrou emphasized that while it is possible the position will be reinstated, it is also possible that an additional position will be eliminated in the future.

"Money can be moved around, but at this point in time we don't have the opportunity to make that level of cuts," board member Sandra Brennan said.

Other significant features of the budget include an additional $85,000 in expenditures over the current year, $65,000 of which relates to Highland Park improvement expenses that can be reimbursed by New York state. The remaining $20,000 relates to increased retirement plan costs. The budget also decreases funding in many areas; funds for reconstruction of the Geneseo Building have been reduced from $50,000 to $10,000 per year and the line for contractual services has decreased from $19,000 to $9,000.

Another source of discussion among the board was the decision to cut contractual expenses for youth programs from $51,000 to $38,000. The new budget requires parents to pay $10 per child attending youth programs on a weekly basis in order to make up for a loss of state revenue.

Board member Margaret Duff said she opposed the decision to reduce funding for youth programs, citing information from the 2010 census that indicates Geneseo has the highest percentage of children under 18 living beneath the poverty line of all towns in Livingston County.

"If there were some other ways of saving money, things could change," Hatheway said.