by Rachel Hunter
The Village of Gouverneur Board of Trustees was pleased to announce at the budget hearing on Thursday, April 6 that this year's budget calls for a decrease of 30 cents per $1000 in the tax rate to $12 per thousand of assessed value.
“First time in a decade that this has happened,” Mayor Ron McDougall said. “It has been the same, hasn’t gone up thank goodness but we were able to take that down.”
There is an increase in water rents of $1 per unit per quarter for a total of $85 per quarter representing a 1.2% increase and $1.80 per unit per quarter for a total of $150.90 for outside water users and an increase in sewer rents of $1 per unit per quarter for a total of $85.00 per quarter representing a 1.2% increase.
Mayor Ron McDougall outlined several significant factors that have impacted the budget. They include the following:
The total assessed value for the village is $109,389,411 representing an increase of $403,633.
The village chose not to exceed the tax cap.
Sales tax revenue remains the same.
The utilities gross receipts tax was decreased by $4,000.
Franchise fees from Time Warner remains the same.
State revenue sharing remains the same.
Mortgage tax revenue remains the same.
CHIPS revenue was increased by $18,700. Streets to be paved will be determined at a later date.
The Town of Gouverneur will be contributing $10,000 towards the Recreation Center expenditures and $10,000 toward the Community Center expenses.
The Town of Fowler will be contributing $800 towards the Recreation Center expenditures.
The NYS Retirement bill for February 2017 was $148,551 for the Employee’s Pension and $80,537 for the Police Pension. This bill also saw a savings of $684 in Employees’ Pension and $1,262 in Police Pension because it was paid before December 15.
Health insurance premiums budgeted amount reflect a 9% increase from last year's budgeted amount.
Workers Compensation premiums decreased by $400. This decrease is due to the revised worker’s compensation program formula change adopted by the county legislature two years ago.
Serial Bonds and BAN debt payments including principal and interest represent a total of $591,543.80.
The general fund will use $65,000 of its fund balance.
The mayor will receive $10,815 per year in salary. The deputy mayor will receive $8,652/year and the Board of Trustees will receive $6,489/year.
The general fund has contained monies for the Library, Museum, Senior Citizens Organization, the Gouverneur Cemetery Association, the Rescue Squad and the Fire Department. This year’s budget includes an increase in the contract amount over last year’s contract. The amount of these contracts are as follows: $7,004 for the library, $1,326.50 for the museum, $636.75 for the Senior Citizens Organization, $3,000 for the Cemetery Association, $23,347 for the Rescue Squad and $111,427 for the Fire Department. Prior to this, Federal Reserve Funds were used to fund the Villages contributions.
This budget includes major new equipment purchases in the Department of Public Works such as a new John Deere Backhoe/Loader and a Ford F250 pickup truck.
As in past years, the budget contains specific reserve funds. All reserve funds are necessary for the village to purchase new equipment, make improvements or undertake repairs that may arise in the future. These funds help the village maintain and improve its existing facilities and equipment. The Police Apparatus Reserve Fund has funding for a new AWD police car.
Sidewalk grant monies are available to homeowners, business owners and landlords. Please contact Dawn McCollum, DPW Clerk for information
Various projects are continually being addressed in the coming budget year i.e. street lights, hydro plant and sewer work. Costs associated with these much-needed areas of concern can only be estimates at this time and the general fund balance and/or other fund balances have been affected.
The village received a$1,995,000 Green Innovation Grant and a loan commitment from the NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation for storm water abatement on the West Side. This is an estimated $6.2 million project. This project is currently underway.
The Village and Town of Gouverneur received a grant in the amount $396,000 from the state to consolidate wastewater treatment operations. This project is completed and the village sewer system is accepting the town sewer waste and the budget contains a revenue projection for this.
Grant applications will be submitted and included in these said applications will be work for housing rehabilitation, municipal infrastructure and downtown revitalization.
The Governor announced that the Village was chosen to receive NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Water Quality Improvement Project funding in the amount of $841,500. This project is the outcome of shared services which installed effluent disinfection to treat wastewater from both the village and town collection systems. This project is anticipated to be completed under this budget year.
The Village of Gouverneur census unfortunately has continued to decline down another 83 citizens as per the 2014 estimates from the 3,949 of the 2010 census. In addition, the local school district which the Village of Gouverneur is a major component of has been identified as a high needs district. The vast majority of local students qualifies for free and/or reduced breakfast and lunch programs. On a broader scope, St. Lawrence County has one of every three children living in poverty. Of the 451 upstatesSchool districts, Gouverneur ranks 383 for household median income. The aforementioned certainly justifies the village board’s goal of reducing the size and the cost of local municipal government. The village will be involved in the 2020 census data collection.
In the public housing arena (Cambray Housing), the 71 unit $14 million dollar project has been approved and the project is nearly completed. Additionally, applications are being prepared to be submitted to rehabilitate 28 more units. So, in turn, at the end of this budget year, the Village should have 71 new public housing units and another 28 units rehabilitated for our citizens that are in need and qualify for public housing.
In closing, the Mayor’s Message said the following:
“The Village Board is committed to working on consolidating shared services with the Town of Gouverneur and/or other municipal governmental agencies.”
He noted that although the state budget at that time hadn’t been approved, there were things in it he knows will help the village.
Since then, the state budget has been approved. Mayor McDougall issued the following statement:
“This agreement marks another major step forward that will make a positive difference in the lives of New Yorkers. Lawmakers in Albany have overcome bipartisan differences and found common ground to serve New Yorkers, providing a clear model for their counterparts in Washington. This budget will improve the lives of New Yorkers across the state and paves the path for brighter future for New York. I am grateful to Governor Cuomo and our representatives in Albany, and look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together.”
The budget was adopted unanimously.
“I am very happy with the budget,” Mayor McDougall said in conclusion.
Mayor McDougall then continued to extend his gratitude for the cooperation of the following departments, organizations, businesses and individuals: Village of Gouverneur Recreation Dept. (Director Casey Canell), Clerk’s Office (Clerk/Treasurer Barbara Finnie), Gouverneur Police Department (Chief Laurina Greenhill), Department of Public Works (Supt. TJ Simmons), Gouverneur Fire, Gouverneur Rescue, Dog Control, Project Engineer (Bernier, Carr and Associates), Legal (Attorney Henry Leader), WCP Consultants, Inc., Burnham Benefit Insurance, Larry Weldon (computers), and Code Enforcement Office.
Mayor McDougall then asked for any comments from the trustees.
Deputy Mayor Charles Newvine offered the following:
“I have been involved in this longer than anybody here- in the village aspect of it. It has not changed as far as rate per thousand until this year. So this is a budget that the public should be proud of, and the board members, and most importantly the employees should be proud of.
“This is a very, very good budget and we are working toward a brighter future, although people in the village don’t really see it that way, I do and I hope that this is at least a little bit of a brighter future for those people who don’t see it that way.
“It is a great budget, and the people who worked very hard on it should be proud!”
by Rachel Hunter