VALATIE – The Village Board approved a $1.5-million budget this week with a 2% tax levy increase.
At a public hearing on the budget April 30, four of the five board members voted in favor of the budget with one member, Amy Frienberg-Trufas, voting against.
Village budgets run from June 1 to May 31.
Village residents attended the hearing at the Martin H. Glynn School Building, which is now the Village Hall. The board plans to sell the old hall, on Main Street, and use the money for any improvements needed at the Glynn Building.
Mayor Diane Argyle talked about the expenses the village faces with a bigger municipal building, which the village is sharing with the Town of Kinderhook, the town court and a county Sheriff’s Office sub-station. She has budgeted $50,000 for heating and other costs. The town will pay for grounds maintenance while the village will supply water and sewer for the building.
Ms. Argyle also talked about expenses in the water and sewer accounts. She said that starting June 1 the general fund, water fund and sewer funds will be three separate accounts, which the state recommends but had not been the case under the past administration.
In June a major $3-million sewer treatment plant upgrades will be complete, which Ms. Argyle said the village will have to start paying off next year. She also said the next big project would be a filtration system for the village water system that could cost $1.5 to $3 million dollars.
Ms. Argyle said that though the engineering firm that worked on the sewer plant found grants for that project, “There is no grant money there for water.” She also stressed that the project was long overdue. “It should have been done yesterday,” she said at the meeting.
But she also said that having a water filtration system would mean the village can sell water to other municipalities, which would generate revenue for the village. And she talked about revenues from the water and sewer services used by the apartment building for seniors that is almost finished on Route 203 as well as service to over 30 properties in the Village of Kinderhook that will connect to the Valatie sewer system once Kinderhook finishes construction of the sewer lines.
Ms. Argyle spoke of aggressively going after overdue water and sewer bills, and back taxes. “We have a huge back tax problem,” she said. As for late water and sewer bills, she said there is a 10% penalty every month on overdue bills, but the village has a payment plan for residents making a good faith effort to pay their bills.
As board members cast their votes for the budget, new board member Frank Bevens said he would make the motion to support the budget “with the hope that we can give residents back that 2% next year.”
Newly appointed Angelo Nero said that this current board inherited a lot of expenses in this budget. “I think next year you’ll see a much better budget,” he said.
Ms. Frienberg-Trufas, who did not vote in favor of the budget, pointed out that the board was moving $60,000 from an unexpended fund balance that only had $89,000 in it currently.
She also thought the board set aside too much money for the building maintenance. “The way this budget is, we are going to need that money,” she said. She worried that other things were not funded enough to keep the current level of services in the village.
The next regular board meeting will be May 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Martin H. Glynn School Building on Church Street.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .