Written by Rich Forestano Thursday, 18 April 2013 00:00
The Village of Mineola certified its 2013-14 budget last week, finalizing an increase of .74 percent from last year. Mineola originally floated a 1 percent increase when it released the tentative figures on April 2.
The total budget was adopted at $21,718,808. Tax revenue tops off at $13,282,158, a $63,248 increase from last year.
However, the village enacted a 2 percent tax cap override on April 10, which according to Mayor Scott Strauss, “allows flexibility should we need it.” Mineola approved the tax cap override since its inception, but has set increases below the state-allowed tax cap each year. Strauss said the village is below cap requirement.
“Sometimes there’s some misunderstanding that because we are passing this, that somehow, we’re looking to pierce the cap,” trustee Paul Pereira stated. “We’re not going to do that.”
The increases in road improvements did not change in the budget. The road maintenance budget increased by $250,000 and the curbs budget line to $50,000 for next year.
“The savings we have experienced allow us to meet challenges facing Mineola,” said Strauss. “We have the opportunity to address infrastructure challenges. We are able to significantly increase funding for road repaving, curb reconstruction and tree replacement.”
Village treasurer Giacomo A. Ciccone detailed figure changes before the budget was certified. Notable budget line changes included increases in personal services (salaries, wages, benefits etc.) of $1,430 ($14,559 total) and $1,294 ($52,144 total) for the community center and summer recreation, respectively.
“I think everyone saw the services we got after the storm and we don’t want to impact those services,” trustee George Durham said. “We want to keep those services for our residents.”
Personal services in the swimming pool line saw an $898 decrease. Water department personal services saw a $2,460 increase, totaling $598,739. Estimated water sales revenues were increased to $2,576,850 from $2,574,210.
Former trustee Larry Werther asked why a water supervisor has not succeeded former Water Superintendent Fred Booher, who retired in 2012. Strauss said the village is “examining that.”
“This administration has been and will continue to be vigilant in our oversight of all expenses in each and every department to make sure we continue to operate within the budget,” Strauss said.
Tax certiorari obligations, according to village officials, have been reduced. Mineola reassessed all properties in the village so tax assessment rolls would “reflect actual values and not result in over payment of taxes,” according to Strauss.
In 2006, tax certiorari refunds totaled $2.6 million. After reassessments, $450,000 in refunds hit the 2013-14 budget.
“The fact that we are at .74 is a credit not only to the board that is here, but to other boards,” Pereira said. “I’ve seen them [tax certiorari’s] go down tremendously since I’ve been on the board since 2008 and of course that number was astronomical 10 years ago.”
Mineola refinanced its debt in 2012, which according to village reps would result in $1.3 million in savings over 12 years, with savings of about $115,000 each year.
“The debt management plan was instituted and our outstanding bonding and debt has been reduced from over $30 million to $16.5 million,” Strauss said. “Last summer, Moody’s reaffirmed our coveted bond rating of Aa3.”