By Joshua Maloni
Following a half-dozen work sessions, the Village of Lewiston Board of Trustees is poised to present to the public a 2016-17 budget with no tax increase. The tax rate is set to remain at $7.38 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The sewer rate ($4.64 per 100 cubic feet) and the water rate ($3.54 per 100 cubic feet) also are expected to remain the same.
"We're working on it," Mayor Terry Collesano said following a recent meeting. "We're working very diligently in trying to keep costs down and, at the same time, keep our same services that we offer to our residents in the village."
A public hearing will begin at 6 p.m. Monday. Deputy Treasurer Edward Walker will have a budget fact sheet available for residents at that time.
The regular monthly meeting will follow the public hearing.
The village is projecting a total budget demand of $3,322,798 (down from $3,358,222 in fiscal year 2015-16) and total revenues of $3,167,475 (up from $3,090,920, but down steeply from 2014-15's total of $3,392,939). This would leave the village with a deficit of $155,323, which would require an appropriated fund balance to make up the difference.
Those numbers are somewhat theoretical until the end of the next fiscal year. The village was expected to lose upward of $80,000 this fiscal year, but is trending toward a balanced budget through 10 months.
Currently, the village has about $1.2 million in its fund balance, and about $1.7 million in its capital fund.
Under the state's tax cap threshold, trustees could raise taxes 0.0012 percent, or 1 cent.
Trustees expect to receive more rent money next year - funds not factored into the budget - with the anticipated addition of three Red Brick Municipal Building tenants. They're also hoping to receive more regular payments from existing tenants.
One sticking point with the proposed budget is a pending collective bargaining agreement with the Department of Public Works' eight full-time employees (excluding two superintendents). The proposed budget includes a 3 percent pay raise for all village employees, including those at the DPW.
Trustee Nick Conde stressed the importance of balancing the budget. The board considered cutting departmental costs 27 percent across the board, but opted to wait and see how the next few months go.
If spending and income remain as is, Trustee Vic Eydt cautioned, "We're going to dig deep next year," to avoid another potential six-figure budget deficit.
"We have to," Trustee Dan Gibson said.
The board plans to adopt the budget at a special 6 p.m. meeting Monday, April 25. The fiscal year begins June 1.
Paladino and Fairchild variances
At this past Monday's Historic Preservation/Planning Board meeting, appointed leaders voted unanimously to recommend the Zoning Board of Appeals approve variances required for Ellicott Development's plaza proposal and James Jerge's Fairchild project. The ZBA will hold a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 5, to vote on the variances.
A list of the variances, and an explanation for each from Planning Board Chairman Norm Machelor, can be downloaded below:
"We've been working on this for two years," Machelor said Thursday. "We think we've done our due diligence with it. We tried to apply all of the zoning that we felt was appropriate.
"We can't guarantee that the Zoning Board will see eye to eye with us, but we've met with them individually and so on, so if they had questions they could ask us, 'Why did you do this or that or the other thing.' "
Ellicott Development CEO William Paladino has proposed creating a mixed-use development comprised of retail and restaurant units, plus a pharmacy and housing, on 4.1 acres of land bordering Center, North Eighth and Onondaga streets.
Jerge intends to build a three-story apartment complex where the former Fairchild Manor nursing home sits, on the corner of North Eighth and Onondaga streets. He has 1.55 acres of property.