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2011-2012 Village Budget Approved

Tax Increase Set at 3.5 Percent

The board of trustees of the Incorporated Village of Mineola unanimously approved the village budget during the April 20 work session. The tax increase discussed on April 13 has seen a decrease from 3.65 to 3.5 percent. The village budget is approximately $18.5 million.

The budget had to be approved by May 31, the end of the current fiscal year, according to state law. This budget will be in effect June 1 until May 31, 2012.

Over the last two meetings, the budget has seen significant modifications. Village treasurer Giacomo Ciccone detailed the changes.

On the revenue side, changes included raising taxi driver licenses from $2,000 to $3,000 due to more requests from cab companies for licenses, increasing fines and fees for the library from $12,000 to $14,000, raising the amount anticipated to be collected in copy fees from $1,200 to $1,500 and increasing the lost and paid line from $1,500 to $2,000.

On the expenditures side, postage was cut from $35,000 to $30,000, computer Internet access costs were reduced from $4,000 to $3,000, the maintenance of equipment line of $45,000 was reduced to $40,000 due to software contracts coming off the books, the communications line such as telephones and other equipment used by the fire department was cut from $30,000 to $25,000.

The village service awards program budget line was raised from $165,393 to $180,000 because of payouts, while contractual personnel services was cut from $5,000 to $4,000, electric utility costs were cut from $45,000 to $42,000 and gas utilities were reduced from $12,000 to $10,000.

The budget line for workers compensation was also reduced from $5,000 to $1,000. Budgetary lines for Social Security were cut from $60,000 to $55,000, health and medical from $280,000 to $260,000 and optical insurance reduced from $4,000 to $3,500.

At the April 20 meeting, one revenue item in sales tax revenue decreased from $53,487 to $52,234. This reduction was based on the 2010 Census.

Concerning expenditures, life insurance was decreased from $24,200 to $20,000 and dental insurance was decreased from $119,000 to $106,000. Other life insurance reductions from the library decreased from $3,000 to $2,000 while its corresponding dental insurance decreased from $16,000 to $15,000.

These changes are not a reduction in the plans, but in a change in what company is initiating the plan, according to Mayor Scott Strauss. The coverage is the same for village employees, however the village is switching providers.

“We’re looking at a 3.5 percent tax increase to the residents of Mineola,” Strauss said. “I appreciate all the work that has been done. I know in many conversations I’ve had with department heads, they’ve sharpened their pencils and if it weren’t for the increases from the state, we’d have a zero percent tax increase.”

Strauss stated further that, unfortunately, these tax increases have to happen. The average Mineola resident will pay $1,400 in village taxes in this coming year, according to Strauss.

“It sounds minimal,” Strauss said after the meeting. “But it’s not. The previous board put in ideas to help us reduce going forward, including the payoffs of two BANs (bond anticipation notes) and tipping fees with paying Omni for the garbage. Those moves were huge benefits for the taxpayers of the village. If it weren’t for the state mandates, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

Deputy Mayor Paul Pereira commended the board, department heads and Ciccione on the budget, which he said is the fourth budget he’s worked on. “It’s a very complex thing, especially when you’re at the mercy of entities other than yourself,” Pereira said. “Most villages are at the point where we are now, in discussing their budgets, and as the mayor mentioned at the last meeting, most of these villages on paper are in the high single digits, low double digits and we’re under the same restraints they are.”

Trustee Larry Werther called the budget “lean and balanced” and said that he would never vote against a solid budget. Werther suggested that the village revisit fines and fees in the next fiscal year.

“Our fees and fines are fairly low,” he said. “I did some research on it throughout Nassau County and we’re below the middle point. And one thing I know that is a problem is that commercial vehicles cause havoc on our curbs. I’d like to propose a class level in fines.

“If you drive a heavier truck, you pay a heavier fine for parking on the sidewalk,” Werther said.

Werther called the sales tax revenue, which he said is provided by Nassau County, while it seems substantial, an “insult.” Furthermore, any place else where a city co-exists with a county, “villages get a proportional share of the sales tax revenue. There’s one exception to that rule and that exception is Nassau County.”

Trustee Paul Cusato felt the approved budget was a “good number” and that the residents would be happy in comparison to other villages. “We did the best we could and I think [the residents] know that.”