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Village clerk calls budget 'bare bones'

WATKINS GLEN—Property taxpayers in Watkins Glen will face a 1.25 percent tax increase under the terms of a tentative 2009-10 budget presented Monday, April 20.
A public hearing on the proposal will be held at a special village board meeting at 7 p.m. April 30. The officials are expected to adopt a budget following the hearing.
Village Clerk Donna Beardsley called the spending plan “a very bare-bones budget.” It would increase the tax rate from $12.82 per $1,000 of assessed value to $12.98. Under the new budget, the tax levy would be $1,071, 691, up from the current year’s $1,039,802, an increase of 3 percent.
The new budget takes effect June 1.
Trustee Greg Coon said officials were confronted with a potential 18 percent tax increase during early budget discussions.
He said the budget decisions were made more difficult because the municipality must negotiate new contracts with two of its three unions in the new fiscal year—the Teamsters Union and the union representing village police.
Mayor Judy Phillips said she and the four village trustees are taking a voluntary 5 percent pay cut in 2009-10 to help cut expenses. The mayor is paid $6,000 annually and the trustees $5,000.
In other action at Monday’s village board meeting, a local law was introduced to adopt a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan prepared for the village under the auspices of Cornell Cooperative Extension.
A public hearing on the plan, which has been under discussion since 1991, will be held at the board’s May 4 meeting.
The comprehensive plan, which will be legally enforceable following its adoption, sets standards for the development of waterfront property in the village along Seneca Lake and the Seneca Canal.
The 130-page plan divides the waterfront into four distinct areas, identifies potential development projects and establishes permissible uses in each area.
A copy is on file for public inspection at the village clerk’s office.
The local law requires that development proposals be certified as “consistent” with the plan before they can be undertaken.
Customers of the village water system will also face fee increases beginning June 1 under a proposal presented Monday.
The new rates will charge those inside the village limits $10 for the first 300 cubic feet of water and $3.75 for each additional 1,000 cubic feet. The water rent fee will also be increased from $3 per month to $5 per month. In the current year, water users inside the village pay $9 for the first 300 cubic feet, $3.60 for each additional 1,000 cubic feet and a $3 per month water rent fee. Outside the village, the current fees are 1.5 times the fees paid by village residents.
Customers outside the village will be charged $15 for the first 300 cubic feet and $5.65 for each additional 1,000 cubic feet. The water rent fee for those outside the village will be increase from $4.50 to $6.50 per month.
The village water, sewer and electric systems are supported by user fees and do not affect the property tax rate.
Officials also changed village board meeting time from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. beginning May 4. In June, July and August, the board will meet once monthly at 8 p.m. Meeting dates are June 15, July 20 and Aug. 17.


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