Massena Town Council passes 2021 budget that slightly raises tax levy, rate
BY ANDY GARDNER
North Country This Week
MASSENA -- Amid pandemic-related financial uncertainty, town councilors passed a 2021 budget that slightly raises spending and taxes, while using more fund balance than in 2020.
The board voted to adopt the spending plan at their Wednesday, Nov. 18 meeting.Residents inside the village will see their tax rate rise from $4.82 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $4.89, a 1.5% increase.
Residents outside the village will see their tax rate rise from $5.29 to $5.36 a 1.3 percent increase.
The town plans to levy $2,753,762 in taxes, up a nudge from the $2,699,196 levy in 2020.
The tax levy increase was small enough that it didn’t warrant the Town Council holding a public hearing and passing a local law to make it happen.
Spending for next year will total $12,236,590. That compares to $11,189,806 in spending for 2020.
The 2021 Massena town spending blueprint uses $1,170,114 from the fund balance, compared to $499,765 the town used in 2020.
Town Supervisor Steve O’Shaughnessy called this “a particularly hard year” to craft a budget.
“This lack of funds we had, everybody really worked hard in different departments,” he said.
He pointed out that Massena is dealing with a potential 20% state aid cut, and they haven’t gotten any casino compact revenues.
“We really were working from a negative standpoint,” the supervisor said.
Deputy Supervisor Al Nicola, who has been a Massena lawmaker for decades, had similar remarks.
“This was a very difficult year, especially with the loss of the compact money and sales tax being up in the air. It was a tough, tough budget session. You just can’t replace that money,” he said.
Councilor Bob Elsner noted that they had to make “hurtful” cuts, but they didn’t have any other choice.
“We gave serious consideration to the cuts, with no personal agendas,” Elsner said. “I think we were fair across the board in the cuts we were seeking ... I commend everybody on doing it.”
“I think during the process, the department heads learned a little bit more, and we did too, about proper budget forecasting,” he added.
General fund spending for 2021 will be $5,848,000. In 2020, the general fund cost $5,370,977.
Highway fund spending for the coming year will tally $2,077,240, compared to $1,832,831 in 2020.
The airport budget will be $3,466,000 for 2021, with grants anticipated to cover the large majority of that. The 2020 airport budget was $3,043,000.
The Massena Public Library funding for next year will be $691,677. That’s a drop from $748,754 in 2020.
The fire protection contract with the Massena Fire Department is going up a little bit to $98,950 next year from $97,970 this year.
Spending for the Buckton and Highland sewer districts, and the East Massena consolidated water district will total $54,723 in 2021, compared to $96,274 for last year.
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