VALATIE–Trustee Amy Frienberg-Trufas told Village Board Tuesday evening, May 14, she believes there was a “grave error” in the village budget adopted by the board last month. She said taxes for village residents would drop by about 5%, having a negative impact on future budgets.
Ms. Frienberg-Trufas said it is, saying, “Next year is going to be more bleak because of the error.” She said Mayor Diane Argyle had adjusted the tax rate to 2% not the tax levy, making the amount to be raised in taxes about $20,000 less this year compared to last year.
“The state is coming down to look at our budget,” Ms. Frienberg-Trufas said. She said she called state officials to ask about the error after the last budget hearing on April 30. After confirming the mistake, she said the state officials told her they could not correct it.
Mayor Argyle, who was at the meeting, did not admit having made an error, saying that she did the best she could do as a newly elected mayor working with the village clerk and budget officer Melissa Martino-Morin to craft the 2013-14 budget. The spending plan runs from June to May.
Mayor Argyle said she crafted the budget with “the best knowledge I had at that time.” She also stressed that the board held three budget hearings and there was time for Ms. Frienberg-Trufas to bring up the mistake before the budget passed.
State officials are coming to the village to fill out paperwork needed for the 2% tax levy cap, said Ms. Martino-Morin.
Ms. Frienberg-Trufas, who was the only board member to vote against the budget, said if the paperwork had been filled out before adoption of the budget, the error would have been found.
The $1.5-million budget the board passed includes moving about $60,000 from reserve funds, and there are more funds in reserve accounts to cover any shortfalls. But Ms. Frienberg-Trufas told the board she hopes they look at cutting spending to help cushion the impact of the error in the 2014-15 budget the board will adopt next year.
Mayor Argyle did have some revenues to report, saying the village had received $14,747 in overdue water and sewer bills. She said that the village is owed over $65,000 in overdue bills for the last 3 quarters. She added that Trustees Angelo Nero and Frank Bevens went to residents and businesses to collect the back payments.
At the meeting she also talked about the issue of grease traps needed in the drains in some businesses in the village. “With the new sewer plant it’s been recommended to me that it will be an issue,” said the mayor. She plans to draft a letter and inspect the properties that need grease traps to make sure they have one. She said the village could impose fines and jail time if the grease traps are not present.
Ms. Argyle said that one sewer line has backed up three times due to grease. The new sewer plant is on schedule to open next month.
The mayor also announced that River Street Park will be closed starting Thursday for a week so the village can complete well digging work.
The village will host the Memorial Day Parade Monday, May 27. Local fire companies will line up in Holly Hills and march down Main Street at 10 a.m. ending at Glynn Square on Church Street.
The next village board meeting will be Tuesday, June 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Martin H. Glynn Building.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .