2 weeks ago
A letter from the board about next year's budget:
Dear Village Residents:
The Board of Trustees and I just concluded our 5th budget hearing and there is good news and anticipated news. Due to the hard work of Kristen Case and the village office staff, major billing errors were discovered that pre-date my administration. By correcting those mistakes, we increased sewer revenue by nearly $100,000, thereby eliminating the shortfall our water and sewer department would face next year. Thanks to this fix, the planned second phase of water and sewer rate increases will not be necessary, saving the average household between $50 and $75 per year.
Now, for the anticipated news. As many of you are aware, the Village of Homer has faced annual deficits, including the one I inherited when assuming office. Before discussing a plan that could offer solutions for this perennial problem, I'd like to outline the steps actually taken to minimize the impact of the upcoming budgetary gap on Homer residents. These decisions will limit a rise in property taxes to no more than 1.9%, or about $20 or $25 more per household.
In the past, and for this current fiscal year, the savings account was used to substantially reduce the Village's operating deficit. This is not a sustainable way to manage the Village's funds. Our savings should be used for investments in durable items and long term projects, rather than compensate for a lack of spending discipline. In order to safeguard this reserve as much as possible, we undertook the following actions.
The initial budget gap for 2018-19 was well over $300,000. Careful analysis and budget trimming enabled us to cut that number in half. The Village has several large initiatives underway which require full funding on our part, or in most cases, partial funding to cover our required contribution toward a grant-funded project. These initiatives include: shade tree planting, pruning and removal, LED Streetlight conversion, a large sewer infrastructure project, continued revitalization of the Route 11 corridor, revamping the recreation department, safety netting at Griggs Field and a new building at "the pit" among several others. Given the deficit, we put several projects on the back burner for now, and will address them in the coming years as funding allows.
Mothballing projects did lower the deficit but not to a degree to hold the line to a marginal property tax increase. As a consequence, I asked each department head to provide a prospective budget with 10% cuts in equipment and overhead, detailing any potential impact on Village citizens. This type of request is never easy. We are very lucky to have an amazing group of hard working employees who routinely go the extra mile for residents, and are at the core of what makes the Village of Homer such a fantastic place to live. When I became mayor, I was not surprise to discover many Village employees work second jobs to make ends meet. Although we compensated for low wages by granting a 2% cost of living increase, we were still able to reduce department budgets by 10% with minimal impact to the services provided by the village.
All these cost-saving measures did help with our deficit but what could provide a long-term remedy is a multi-faceted, multi-year capital investment and operating plan. Right now, all budgeting is done on a reactionary basis, rather than allowing us to plan proactively. For instance, if your refrigerator has 3 more years of life, planning for that eventuality allows you to budget and save for a new one. A far better scenario then scrambling to find a way to pay for a new one when the old one fails. Accordingly, this year we will do a full scale asset audit and prepare a five-year plan.
In closing, I would like to give thanks to my department heads for working with me to help reach a balanced budget. I would also like to give special thanks to my Board of Trustees: Kevin Slack, Pat Clune, Ed Finkbeiner and Tim Daley. Working with a Board of Trustees who are unified and in sync allows us to avoid gridlock and achieve results. While we may not always agree on every issue, we are able to discuss things in a friendly way and achieve compromise without conflict. It is the dedication and openness of these trustees that will allow this Village to move ahead on so many important projects.
Thank you for your understanding as we move forward,
Mayor Hal McCabe
Village of Homer Trustees: Clune, Daley, Finkbeiner and Slack ... See MoreSee Less
4 weeks ago
WATER WILL BE SHUT OFF TO REPAIR WATER MAIN
Wednesday, December 27th water will be shut off:
on Clinton Street from the train track to Hudson Street &
on Hudson Street from Clinton Street to 281
Sorry for any inconvenience. ... See MoreSee Less
What time in the am?