Mineola Mayor Jack M. Martins wanted to start the village budget process with a tentative budget for the 2006-2007 fiscal year with no increase over the 2005-2006 fiscal year. However, pressures on the budget have caused an increase of 3.85 percent, which is still considered moderate.
With the 2006-2007 budget, concerted efforts were made by village departments to "tighten the belt." However, factors such as the loss of assessed valuation that came as a result of tax certiorari settlements have caused a net loss in revenue of $365,000, which equates for that factor alone to a 3 percent tax increase, according to a memo prepared by acting village treasurer Giacomo Ciccone.
In addition, labor costs also will increase by $115,000 in the coming fiscal year and as a result of financing a fire truck, sweeper, garbage truck and parking meters, debt service will rise $207,000. Also, tax certiorari settlements will be $250,000 more than the prior year.
According to Ciccone, the cumulative effect of all of these factors would increase taxes by 7.75 percent. However, because the village is expected to see increases in certain revenue streams and have cut expenses in certain areas, the tax increase was lowered to 3.85 percent.
On April 11, the village board held a public hearing to discuss the budget. Few residents attended. Mayor Martins said he feels comfortable with the budget he called secure.
One item that had been a cause for concern was the contingency line in the budget, which was initially set at $250,000. The mayor and the board felt that the line was too low and increased it $350,000.
Deputy Mayor Larry Werther said he was well satisfied with the budget as was Trustee John DaVanzo. Trustee Linda Fairgrieve said she had question with regard to tax certiorari payments, the contract the village has with the Mineola Volunteer Ambulance Corps (MVAC) and a breakdown of the costs regarding the village newsletter.
Trustee Paul Cusato suggested doing something for the ambulance corps. "My gut feeling is we should do something for them," said Cusato, although the trustee offered no suggestions on what to do for the corps.
MVAC is considered a private organization that provides ambulance service. In return, the village gives the corps a stipend of $60,000 and the use of MVAC's headquarters, which is a village-owned facility.
Patrick Tobin, the president of MVAC, requested $90,000 from the village, pointing out that MVAC is paying off the debt of a new ambulance the corps purchased with its own money.
Although no one would dispute the valuable service the corps provides, getting additional money from the village during a year when departments were asked to tighten its belts is not easy. "We'd love to give every department more money, but that's not what we're here for. We're here to keep the tax rate as low as possible," Mayor Martins said.
Tobin was asked to provide a budget request in writing as proof of the corps need for more funds. Village attorney John Spellman suggested revisiting the village's contract with the ambulance corps.
The board has not yet adopted the budget. The board has until the end of the month to adopt it.