Fleischmanns faces difficult budget year

By Jay Braman Jr.
Times are tough these at all levels of government, and things are no different in Fleischmanns, where the tentative budget not only strips the mayor of his salary but also cuts programs such as recreation and others.

At 6 p.m. on Monday, April 15 in the Skene Memorial Library on Main Street, the Fleischmanns Village Board will hold a public hearing on the village’s proposed 2013-’14 budget.
In a prepared statement, Mayor Todd Pascarella said the tentative budget he prepared contains no tax increase, but the plan still comes at a cost.

Mayor’s take
“This year it will be harder than any since I’ve been in the process to balance our budget,” Pascarella said. “For starters, the flood destroyed more than six percent of the taxable property in the village. There are a considerable amount of back taxes owed the village, which take time to be recouped. On the expenses side, costs continue to rise such as health insurance and other forms of insurance, payroll expenses, fuel, fire protection, etc.”

He also said that his plan is not set in stone and that there will probably be discussion next week about adding expenses or putting things back into the budget that he cut out in his tentative plan, but he warned that those talks need to be comprehensive.

“Any discussion of adding back things that were cut or adding new expenses needs to be accompanied by discussion of where the increased revenue would come from to pay for them,” Pascarella said. “Likewise, any reductions in foreseen revenue would have to be accompanied by discussion of further reduction in expenses to offset such.”

Revenue dropping
The mayor’s current estimate shows property-tax revenue dropping from $271,547 to only $254,244.
Total spending would go up only $1,787, from $460,026 to $461,813. This plan also leaves the village’s contingency account, which carried a balance of $2,000 in the last budget cycle, empty.
One way to save money is to not give pay raises to village employees. In the case of elected officials, like the mayor and the four village trustees, all five will lose their salaries, all but one dollar each that is.

Pascarella was getting $2,400 a year for his service. The four trustees were getting $1,200 each per year.

Recreation cutbacks
Also taking a hit is the village’s recreation budget, which will drop from $10,000 to $8000, although Pascarella hopes to pick up some of that slack with higher revenue from use of the village’s swimming pool. He expects those receipts to rise from $3,600 last year to $4,500 this year.

Another critical element of the tentative budget is Pascarella’s prediction that the village will dramatically increase the collection of delinquent taxes. With $20,000 in the budget last time around, Pascarella expects that revenue stream to yield $30,498. Tax penalties are expected to go up too, from $9,000 to $11,000.

“It has been the trend over the past several years that we recoup a significant amount of back taxes and penalties associated,” he said. “In other words, you can run but you can’t hide from the taxman. For this reason the estimated delinquent taxes plus penalties have increased.”
A copy of the tentative budget can be viewed at the Skene Library on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week and again on Monday between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.