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The Telegram
  • Rising costs, decreasing revenues challenge Frankfort officials

  • Work on the 2013 - 2014 village budget is under way in Frankfort and officials are dealing not only with an increase in expenditures, but a decrease in revenues.

    The Frankfort village board will meet with department heads to discuss ways to reduce expenditures in a budget Mayor Frank Moracco said would raise village taxes by 12.5 percent.

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  • Work on the 2013 - 2014 village budget is under way in Frankfort and officials are dealing not only with an increase in expenditures, but a decrease in revenues.
    The Frankfort village board will meet with department heads to discuss ways to reduce expenditures in a budget Mayor Frank Moracco said would raise village taxes by 12.5 percent.
    Moracco presented a tentative general fund budget of $1,703,684 during Thursday’s village board meeting. That’s up more than $85,000 from the $1.6 million 2012 - 2013 budget while anticipated revenues total $1,441,455, down from the $1,453,345 anticipated for the current year’s budget.
    Frankfort Town Assessor Jim Fresco was on hand for Thursday’s meeting.
    Moracco wanted to know why the village is looking at an $18,000 reduction in tax revenue.
    “Last year we had $825,000 in tax revenue and it’s $807,000 this year,” he said.
    One reason is the reduction in franchise income from power lines, according to Fresco.
    “The depreciation due to the age of the lines is dictated from above,” he said.
    Fresco said the assessment on the Union Tools site will have to be reduced to a bare land assessment because the buildings are being taken down.
    “It’s frustrating,” said Moracco. “We’re supposed to keep property taxes to no more than a two percent increase, but we’re dealing with a loss of revenue that far exceeds that.”
    New York State United Teachers has brought a lawsuit challenging the two percent tax cap saying  it interferes with the local control of schools, Fresco pointed out.
    He said if the board decides it must exceed the two percent cap, “you would have to detail it really well and explain it to the public.” He added, “Almost everyone will have to go over it either this year or next.”
    Fresco said there is little new construction in the village to increase tax revenue and smaller projects, such as adding a deck to a house, generate only a small amount of added revenue.
    Moracco said even if land were readily available for construction, without additional jobs in the area, he doesn’t foresee much happening.
    “Unless something happens at the Pumpkin Patch or at Union Tools,” he said. “It has to be done throughout Herkimer County. Herkimer County has to support any business that comes to this area.”
    Fresco said there are business investment exemptions available through his office to assist smaller businesses that qualify. A small business that is seeking to expand would be a candidate, he said.
    Moracco reviewed the tentative budget plan with the board. He explained the initial plan includes all of the appropriations requested by village department heads.
    “My objective was to try to keep every department at five percent,” he said. He pointed out the public safety budget, which includes police, fire protection and animal control, is up 8.8 percent and the highway and streets budget shows an increase of 8.1 percent.
    Page 2 of 2 - The biggest jump in the public safety area is in the police budget, which shows an increase of more than $26,000, Moracco said.
    He noted there is an increase in the budget for celebrations because the village will be celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Moracco added he expects donations from sponsors will help offset some of the costs.
    Some increases in the appropriations budget are due to contractual obligations and increases in costs that are beyond the village’s control. Workers’ compensation shows an increase from $79,200 to $96,903, while hospital and medical insurance shows a total of $138,322 compared with $125,000 budgeted for the current year.
    “I’ve been working on this budget with (Village Treasurer) Doreen (Fiorentino) and (office staff and former budget officer) Starr (Mizerak) and I’m not happy with this budget,” said Moracco.
    He also presented the water and sewer budgets to the board. Both of those budgets balance.
    The board voted to reject all three budgets and scheduled times March 4 to March 6 to meet with each department head. Decisions on how to balance the budget will have to be made in time for a preliminary budget to be presented at the board’s March 21 meeting. A public hearing on the budget must be conducted on or before April 15.
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