Massena village budget comes in $200 below tax cap
BY JEFF CHUDZINSKI
North Country This Week
MASSENA — Village Mayor Greg Paquin’s tentative 2023-24 budget has come in $200 under the projected tax cap.
Paquin presented the tentative budget during the village board’s March 20 meeting.According to Paquin, the budget could come even further under the tax cap after budget sessions are held over the next few weeks.
The proposed mayor’s budget, totaling $11,310,418 would see a tax levy of $6,272,247. That levy would represent a 2.5% increase to the tax levy and 2.52% tax cap increase.
The increase in the tax levy stands at 0.89% higher than last year, according to budget documents.
The tax cap increase would represent a $154,233 increase, just $200 under the allowable amount of $154,433.
The tax rate per $1,000 in assessed value would rise 2.1% to $17.138732.
“Our taxable property values have increased, which helps with the budget,” he said.
Of note, fund balance usage to balance the budget would see a sharp decline from years prior to just $80,000, according to Paquin.
Officials were forced to utilize over $290,000 last year in appropriated funds to balance the budget, Paquin said.
The village’s projected unassigned fund balance for 2023-24 would be $2,612,300, offering some flexibility to village officials in the future, officials say.
When assessing revenues and expenses, both increased slightly compared to last year’s budget.
“It’s close. They’re very, very close right now,” Paquin said.
One concern highlighted in the budget presentation was the potential added expenses to the water and sewer funds.
Officials have begun taking steps to slightly raise water and sewer rates to offset the expense with actions during recent meetings, including a public hearing. Officials say if rates do not go up the village would be on the hook for roughly $400,000 in additional expenses due to county rates rising, which are then passed on to the village.
The Joint Recreation Department will also receive $1,016,224 under the proposed budget, however Paquin suggested conversations may be required in the future between the town and village with the department regarding the use of the existing fund balance.
Under the proposed budget, the general fund would include a significant investment in personnel and employee benefits.
According to Paquin, 72% of expenses would be related to personnel and benefits.
“It may seem like a lot but this is about services and we need people to provide those services. It seems like a big expense but it’s also not just about equipment, we need people to do these jobs,” he said.
Other highlights of the budget include continued investment in the police department, two new dump trucks expected to be delivered in April for the Department of Public Works, with two more expected to be delivered sometime next year.
A new ambulance has also been delivered to the Massena Rescue Squad recently, with officials saying another may be required quickly due to the aging of the fleet and overwork of two vehicles in recent years.
Rescue squad officials say the 2014 and 2016 ambulances both have over 35,000 more miles than would normally be seen due to one ambulance being out of service for extended periods of time over the last couple of years.
Village officials also cautioned against using the fund balance due to money being held in the fund balance for vehicles that were ordered in the last two budgets that have not yet been paid for.
Officials also say sales tax projections remain the same as last year, though that is subject to change with the economy.
Future considerations include upgrades that are needed at the water treatment plant to help with future development.
According to Paquin, the water tower is not in need of replacement immediately but officials “should start planning now” to take action in the future.
“I know that water tower is iconic and part of what defines Massena but new towers don’t look like that. Eventually we will need a replacement,” he said.
As was previously mentioned, officials will also begin the planning phase to purchase a new ambulance “probably later this year”, Paquin said.
“We’ll have to see how some things play out and then we will assess sometime later this year,” he said.
On Monday, March 27 the village will have budget workshops for Massena Senior Citizens, the chamber of commerce, code enforcement, the fire department and rescue squad at 5:30 p.m.
Budget workshops for the Department of Public Works, treasurer and general budget will be held on Monday, April 3 at 5:30 p.m.
Additional workshops for the Massena Police Department, joint recreation commission and remainder of the budget will be held on Tuesday, April 4 at 5:30 p.m.
During the April 4 workshop the remainder of the budget will be considered, with the comprehensive budget possibly being reviewed and adopted during the meeting.
On Tuesday, April 18 at 5:30 p.m. a final budget work session is scheduled if an additional session is necessary. If the budget is not adopted on April 4, officials are expected to adopt it on April 18.
Officials must adopt the budget by Monday, May 1.
All sessions will take place in room 30 of the town hall building and are open to the public.