TRUMANSBURG, N.Y. — The Trumansburg Village Board of Trustees held their first remote meeting on Monday, April 13 via Zoom and live-streamed on Youtube where board members unanimously approved the proposed roughly $1 million 2020-2021 budget.
The agenda can be found here.
Planning Board appointment
The first issue the board took up Monday night concerned appointing a new planning board member to take the place of Victoria Romanoff, who recently submitted a letter of resignation that went into effect immediately. The board voted unanimously to appoint Michelle Mitrani to serve the remaining three years of Romanoff’s term.
According to Trumansburg Mayor Rordan Hart the 2020-2021 budget, which was approved unanimously Monday night following a remote public hearing where no member of the public spoke, will not include a tax rate increase despite an increase to the tax levy. Hart said that this was accomplished due to the fact that property values in the area have increased.
“The village tax rate remains unchanged at $7.25 per ($1000 of property value) so that is flat. The levy will increase, last year it was $970,633 and this year it will be $1,044,775, so approximately a $75,000 increase in taxes needed to be raised. That is due to expansion of services like Emergency Medical Services, but because of how assessments played out this year the tax rate will not be affected,” Hart said.
In terms of revenue, Hart said that sales revenue has increased by roughly 7% over last year, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has still damaged the local economy, which Hart said he estimates has cost the village an additional 4 percent increase in sales tax revenue.
“This is a moving target so we won’t know yet (what the impact will be). One benefit is our fiscal year doesn’t start until June so we are guessing over that period to next May (things may recover). Since we have a strong unencumbered balance in the meantime, we can weather the storm if it is short. I do advocate that we do need relief in stimulus spending for local municipality budget shortfalls,” Hart said.
While Hart said he does advocate and hope for federal stimulus money to reach local municipalities, he added it can’t be counted on yet. When asked if the village will have to figure out a way to offset the loss in sales tax revenue expected due to the pandemic, Hart said that the Village is in excellent financial shape and that if the COVID-19 pandemic had not occurred, there could have been extra money to be used for lowering the tax rate or the funding of a special reserve fund. As it stands, neither of those options are now possible.
The board voted unanimously to increase sewer rates for village residents and residents outside the village who still use the village’s sewer system by roughly 28 percent. According to village officials this is not the end of rate increases, which Hart said had to be increased to pay off the sewer plant refitting performed roughly five years prior and to bring rates closer to market average, and that rates will increase the following year by roughly another 8 percent.
“For properties inside village bi-monthly charge per unit 63.90 for properties outside bi-monthly charge is 95.85. There will be a 10 percent penalty if the bill is 30 days late,” Hart said.
Hart added that water rates will remain unchanged and that sewer rate increases could have been even worse if the village had not come across some unexpected grant money that lessened the financial burden.
Along with increased sewer rates the board approved shifting the billing cycle for sewer and water from quarterly to bi-monthly in an effort to allow residents to better plan out their payments.
“This is something requested for quite some time by village residents instead of a quarterly bill,” Hart said. Billing monthly was looked into, but it was impossible to pull off using the software the village currently uses.
County Legislative Update
Tompkins County Legislator Anne Koreman appeared before the Board and gave an update on the COVID-19 presence in Tompkins County. Koreman said that as it stands, two people have died in the county from COVID-19, both of whom were transported to the area from Downstate as a result of having a family member who lived in the area.
In the meantime Koreman said the county is trying to buy masks for county employees deemed essential.
In terms of finances, Koreman told the board that state officials have been informing county officials across the state to expect that reimbursement requests will be slashed by 15 to 20%.
“They say public assistance programs will not be impacted, I hope that is true… funding for roads could be reduced,” Koreman said.
The Farmers Market Committee, in conjunction with county health officials and the Trumansburg Board of Trustees, is exploring the possibility of opening the market as scheduled on April 15.
According to village officials if it is able to open there would be no music, no public eating spots, and no benches available to sit and will include the requirement that only one member of a family is allowed to attend.
In the process of signaling their support board members reasoned that grocery stores are still open, the farmers market supports the local economy and maintains the local ability to grow its own food.
For her part, Koreman said that she felt more comfortable and safe at the Ithaca Farmers Market as opposed to going to a grocery store.
No action was taken on the farmers market by the board.