It appears that Blasdell residents won’t have to dig much deeper into their pockets come budget season this spring, as preliminary expectations show a roughly 1 percent tax hike for the upcoming fiscal year.
At last Wednesday’s (Feb. 6) meeting of the Blasdell Village Board, it was stated that the expected tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property value in the village stands at $19. Revenues other than taxes are projected at $792,650, with village officials incorporating $100,000 of fund balance monies to further balance the budget.
A major reason for just the slight tax rate increase is said to be assessments in Blasdell not being as low as projected amounts had indicated earlier in the budget process. Although still lower than amounts in recent years- assessments in 2012-13 are said to be about $3 million less than those calculated in 2003-04- the expectation for a major drop-off in assessed values did not come to fruition.
The projected small tax hike in large part contributed to the board’s decision to not take further action regarding possible implementation of a 2 percent tax cap override. Rather, the item was dissolved from board discussion. It was noted, however, that the issue of hypothetical tax cap overriding is an annual item for discussion around the time of budget planning in a given municipality.
Blasdell Mayor Michael Petrie said much effort has so far been expended by village officials in crafting an outline of a projected budget for 2013-14, with favorable results.
“It’s a very reasonable budget,” Petrie said in regards to the fiscal parameters, including the small tax rate increase suggested.
Noted budget parameters include increasing Blasdell police expenditures by $10,000, with the granting of a 50-cent increase per hour worked for patrolmen. Other village departments were said to maintain mostly stable expenditure amounts as compared to 2012-13.
In related budgetary action, it was stated that installation of a splash pad at the playground at Silver Street could come within a couple of years, once a substantial amount of monies are collected toward the project through a specific fund set aside for the splash pad. It was estimated that the cost of the splash pad installation would be in the range of $50,000 and funding for such an item could take between three and five years. The source of project funding will come in the form of monies set aside as part of budget revenues, notably from the waste transfer fund. It was stated that any annual monies represented above $76,000 in the revenues portion would be newly dedicated as splash pad funds to be used toward the project. It was further stated that village officials had budgeted for $86,000 in upcoming general revenues, with $92,000 of such monies collected last year.
Trustee Matt Chandler had particularly been a proponent of the splash pad addition after taking a strong position for the takedown of the previously standing basketball courts at the Silver Street playground, noting at that time the presence of unsavory individuals and mentioning what had been described as questionable behavior taking place at the site. At last Wednesday’s meeting, Chandler said he hopes a more narrowed timeline could be established in implementing the splash pad project, asking if village officials could perhaps look into financing the undertaking after making a possible lump sum payment.
Fellow Trustee Rob Hefner stated that in addition to the splash pad likely being installed eventually in the area in which the basketball courts once stood, it is his hope that a game or activity can also be implemented. Games such as Four Square and Hopscotch were mentioned as possible additions.
Village residents will see a change in their regularly scheduled garbage and recyclable pickups starting in June, as part of the alternate agreement between Blasdell and Modern Disposal, with the Collection and Hauling of Mixed Municipal Wastes, Bulky Wastes and White Goods being an amount not to exceed $98,000. Currently taking place on Thursdays, the final such garbage pickup on that day of the week will occur on May 30. Starting the following Monday (June 3), garbage pickup will take place on that day of the week thereafter. Also, it was stated that recyclable items will now be placed in totes- with one given to each property owner- for pickup of such items to take place every other week. Recyclable pickups were said to have been taking place each week under the former contract, with a smaller container used to hold recyclable items.
The village board at the meeting passed a resolution that states project bids will be put out in regards to a project at the intersection of South Park Avenue and Lake Avenue, work that will include streetscape improvements and incorporate pedestrian safety through various crosswalks, sidewalks and use of green space. The project announcement follows what had been established as a grant in April 2010 through Congressman Brian Higgins’ office that led to a village resolution. An appropriated amount of $72,790 from infrastructure reserves- to go along with previously appropriated monies of $17,200 from the project’s Preliminary Engineering Phase- will cover the cost of participation in the aforementioned phases of the project.
The project’s resolution states that there is a call for apportionment of costs to have 80 percent rationalized by federal funds and 20 percent of non-federal (village paid) funds, with the latter covering Preliminary Engineering, construction and construction inspection phases. Petrie said project work beginning is contingent upon an understanding being established between village and county officials in which county repairs on village sites within the project area will not coincide with related streetscape improvements.
Other meeting action included:
• Trustee Lou McDonald mentioning the possibility of establishing “Little Library” outdoor kiosk facilities throughout the village as sites at which residents can withdraw and return books. McDonald added that such an addition, through related funding, would assist in promoting walkability in warmer months for residents who wish to read and want a convenient option for doing so.
• Trustee Kathy Seufert King stating that a police lieutenant or patrolman from the Blasdell Police Department will be frequently present at Blasdell Elementary School to provide a safety outlet and contact person for those at the school to communicate any related thoughts or concerns.
• The Village Board accepting the resignation of Jeffrey L. Devinney from his position as part-time police officer in the Blasdell Police Department; approving the addition of Trisha Fitzpatrick to the active rolls of the Blasdell Volunteer Fire Department; and appointing Caitlyn J. Ebert to the position of temporary part-time records clerk. Board members credited Devinney for being a “great officer in the village,” while congratulating him for obtaining a full-time position with the Town of Evans Police Department. Fitzpatrick currently serves as an Emergency Medical Technician and is taking a course to becoming an Intermediate, with the village slated to upgrade its ambulance service when new protocol is established by New York State officials.