By DENISE A. RAYMO
---- — MALONE — The Village of Malone’s 2013-14 budget proposal does not include layoffs, but officials will work to bring the unions back to the table to renegotiate employee contracts.
The proposed layoff of a Department of Public Works employee was avoided Monday when the Village Board opted to, instead, scale back the size of a dump-truck purchase contained in the budget.
The Malone Village Police Department will lose an officer to retirement this fall, but a new recruit is expected to start in May, which will still leave the police force at 13 members by the end of the year, Chief Chris Premo said.
The tentative budget is $7,180,616, an increase of 2.06 percent from this year.
The tax levy, or amount to be raised by taxes, is $2,990,192, an increase of 2.19 percent.
The tax rate per $1,000 of assessed-property value is $19.87 compared to $19.44 this year. A village property valued at $100,000 would see a tax increase of about $42.68.
The budget shows 41.52 percent of village property is tax exempt.
STAGNANT TAX BASE
About one-third of the roughly $3 million the Village Board must raise in taxes will go toward health-insurance and retirement costs for people who don’t work there anymore.
According to pension figures listed on the Empire Center for New York State Policy website www.seethroughny.net, the village paid 19 members of the State Police and Fire Retirement System $521,616 and 23 people in the State Retirement System $396,917 in 2012.
In all, health care for existing employees and retiree benefits will cost the village $1,040,000 in 2013-14, Trustee Hugh Hill said.
He advised the 15 or so people who turned out Monday for a public hearing on the budget that the stagnant tax base and escalating benefit costs “are exponentially unsustainable” and that the village could be insolvent within five years.
“We have a shrinking, non-expanding tax base and rapidly expanding costs,” Hill said, adding that the village is using $211,000 in a fund-balance account to keep the tax increase at the mandated 2 percent tax-levy cap.
‘MUST CONTAIN COSTS’
But if the village keeps doing that, that rainy-day fund will be depleted in five years at the same time health-care costs are projected to increase, leaving the village an estimated $387,000 in the red before it even starts to work on the 2017-18 budget and stay under the cap, he said.
Hill warned that if costs are not brought under control, the state will come in and take over the village, using a fiscal-control board to balance the budget without input from local elected officials.
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