Watkins village approves new budget totals
WATKINS GLEN-- The Watkins Glen village trustees voted to approve the roughly $2.7 million 2020-'21 budget during a special remote meeting Friday, May 8. The approved budget, which totals $2,749,294, is some $3,000 less than the previous year's, and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, village officials say Watkins Glen is in good financial shape.
"Luckily we are OK for right now, municipalities are not being as affected as counties and cities because they rely heavily on sales tax as a revenue source, we don't," said Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk.
Leszyk said municipalities like Watkins Glen rely on revenue generated by property tax, something Leszyk stated he believes will remain largely unimpaired by the pandemic.
"The village is in a good financial position to handle this because our revenue source is property tax and... We did the best we could predicting a lot of unknowns, including sales tax distribution by county and highway aid from the state," Leszyk said.
Leszyk added he does not expect Schuyler County to contribute as much as initially expected.
The approved budget takes into account an increase in tax revenue despite the property tax rate going down from $8.50 per assessed thousand dollars of value to $7.74 due to increased property values as a result of a recently performed property value reassessment by the county.
"For anyone who didn't see their property value go up they might actually see a decrease in their property tax this year," Leszyk said.
One thing the board did decide to keep was the village's recycling program despite the fact costs are increasing roughly 25 percent.
"We ended up keeping it in the budget after we put the question on our website asking for public input on what they thought, and the overwhelming response is that the public was in favor of the program," Leszyk said.
Leszyk mentioned that Cardinal Disposal, which is located out of Dundee, will continue to do twice a month curbside recycling for Watkins Glen at a price of $56,000 compared to $43,000 last year.
"We contemplated different options but overwhelmingly the public was in favor of keeping it so we found the money and kept it in," Leszyk said.
Despite an increase in recycling costs, Leszyk stated the county hopes to expect big savings as it pertains to health insurance costs.
"One of the bright sides of the budget is our medical insurance," Leszyk said. "Last year we switched to the consortium and we ended up $95,000 under budget for health insurance costs. So we decreased the amount budgeted for the new budget by $30,000 to $190,000 - but hopefully it ends up even less than that."
During the regularly scheduled meeting held Tuesday, May 5, Leszyk announced the village elections had been pushed back to Sept. 15. Trustees Laurie DeNardo and Anthony Fraboni were scheduled to have their terms expire in March, but will instead serve through the end of the summer as a result. DeNardo has announced she is running for reelection, Fraboni has previously announced he will retire.
"So Tony is with us a little while longer. And (Mayor) John King from Montour Falls will actually get to see the new water treatment plant go online while still in office, which wasn't the case before," Leszyk commented.