Margaretville Village working on a taxpayer-friendlier budget this year

By Joe Moskowitz
Village of Margaretville officials are working on a fiscal year 2014-15 budget that will be much friendlier to taxpayers than was last year’s package.
The tentative budget calls for a total tax hike of only $7,339, or 1.98 percent. Last year’s preliminary spending plan called for a whopping 25 percent tax increase. It was finally whittled down to a still-frightening 14.54 percent increase.
Last year Margaretville was faced with a dramatic reduction in the amount the City of New York, the village’s largest taxpayer, was assessed for its property, primarily the sewage treatment plant. The resultant reduction in revenue from the city, combined with bills that had to be paid after Hurricane Irene, resulted in the massive tax increase. The village is still waiting for reimbursement of some Irene-related expenditures.

Cutting back
Mayor Dina Cope said, “There was no way we could do that again,” so she, Budget Officer Beth Bush, and Department of Public Works Commissioner Henry Friedman went to work on drafting a new budget which would keep increases to a bare minimum.
Cope said they took a different approach to the process this year. Instead of automatically increasing spending on a percentage basis, they examined every item to determine if it was absolutely necessary. She called it “slicing and dicing.”
What they came up with, Cope said, is a spending plan that has no non-essential items in it. For example, plans for further sidewalk improvements and tree planting have been shelved.
Cope said that the village will have to remain under strict spending controls for at least one more year after this budget.
On Monday, Margaretville did get a bit of good financial news, although it may not sound that way. The Federal Emergency Management Administration denied the village’s request for an $80,000 reimbursement for the removal of some debris left by Hurricane Irene. A denial for repayment may not sound like good news, but now that the request has been turned down, the village can appeal the decision. That means that there is now a chance that Margaretville can get its money back.
The next step in the budgetary process was a budget workshop scheduled for early this week.