Proposed Budget To Be Tax Cap Compliant

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With the new fiscal year just around the corner, the Village of Garden City has come up with a proposed 2018-19 budget of $60.6 million, which represents a 2.38 percent (or $1.4 million) increase over last year. The increase is mostly due to an uptick in debt service, consulting and employee benefits. Estimated reviews have increased $1.2 million mostly due to building department fees increasing from large projects. For Village Administrator Ralph Suozzi, it’s all in keeping with finding the best way to continue to make the village an ideal place for residents to call home.

“Government is a service business and our operating budget is the means by which we pay for the delivery of these services,” Suozzi said. “Over these last few years and continuing with this budget, we are making capital and operating investments that improve quality of life, most evident in the rebirth of our recreation facilities, the move toward digitization of building department records, rebuilding and rehabilitating our aging infrastructure and assets.”

The full year expense forecast is expected to be approximately 3 percent favorable to the modified budget, mainly due to lower salary, benefits and taxes through open positions, retirements and hiring at lower costs, as well as deferred judgments and claim settlements in the current fiscal year, Village Treasurer Irene Woo said. On the revenue side, the village is seeing a $1.3 million favorable variance to the modified budget, mostly due to one-time fees received from the Marriott project near Ring Road.

The proposed budget is again tax cap compliant in that the Village did not exceed the Allowable Levy Growth of 2 percent. Over the last four years, the actual property tax levy increase was equal to or less than the Inflation Factor. Eligible residents received rebates in 2015-16 and 2016-17 due to the village’s compliance with the tax cap legislation.

Fiscal Year 2014-15 was the exception as the village exceeded the cap by $946,000. Extraordinary weather events of the prior years coupled with deferment of equipment purchases increased the need to reestablish capital spending at a level more consistent with past practices. This, Woo said, led to an increase of $1 million in cash contribution to capital projects. For the 2018-19 budget, the village is allowed to assess an additional $737,000 in real property taxes, which includes $500,000 of prior year carryover amounts. In keeping with past practice the village has chosen to only raise taxes to match the allowable inflationary growth factor.

Village officials developed the proposed spending plan with several operating principles in mind, including creating a tax cap compliant budget, increasing productivity through capital investments in new technologies and equipment, managing annual capital borrowing and its effect on future operating debt service and seeking grants to supplement, replace or reimburse existing funding sources.

“In this year’s budget, you will see a minimum of four major investments in new hardware and software in building, finance, department of public works and personnel, all geared toward a higher and more efficient level of service delivery, reducing costs and increasing productivity,” Suozzi said. The police department, for example, purchased a computer-aided dispatch and records management system and the purchasing of equipment, like the new payloader, has doubled the village’s ability to maintain and rebuild storm drain infrastructure.

The total proposed capital plan budget for 2018-19 across all project categories is $7.3 million, and a proposed $35 million for the five-year total.

“The trend over the last couple of years was to maintain a level of $25 million over the five years so this is a marked increase in requests,” Woo said. Capital investment projected costs are trending much higher as the village looks to rehabilitate or replace assets well beyond their useful lives.

Equipment, roads and curbs and technology improvements comprise 83 percent of the total proposed capital investment costs for 2018-19. An additional $7.2 million in capital projects under consideration for 2018-19 include paving of the Wye parking field, fire station renovations and LED field lighting.

Visit www.gardencityny.net and click on “Village Budget Meetings” under the Village Notifications and Alerts section to view the PowerPoint presentations from the March 6, 15 and 20 budget meetings in full. The board of trustees of the Incorporated Village of Garden City will adopt the budget on Thursday, April 12, at 8 p.m. The session is currently scheduled to be held in the boardroom at village hall located at 351 Stewart Ave. in Garden City.

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