From Nunda Township Trustee Mike Shorten:
I wanted to provide a little background on my proposal for the 10% decrease in the Town Fund Levy, as well as my motion to set the Cemetery Fund Levy to $1 at the December 8th meeting of the Nunda Township Board of Trustees.
It should be noted that Supervisor Lee Jennings proposed the posting of a levy in the November meeting with a 2.5% decrease and at that same meeting I made a motion to post a levy that reflects a 10% reduction; my motion failed to receive a second.
At the November meeting I also proposed a reduction in the General Assistance levy of 23% as well as a reduction in the Cemetery Fund Levy of 30% given the excessive reserves (Cemetery reserves are 4 times the average annual operating expense, and the General Assistance Reserves are 3 time average annual expense) and my desire to avoid a lawsuit such has been filed against neighboring townships and school districts.
At the meeting this past Thursday (December 8th) Supervisor Jennings brought a Levy to the floor which was now 5% lower than the levy passed last year and 2.5% lower than what he had proposed in November.
I brought forth my proposal again to reduce the levy to just under $1 million dollars which would have been a year to year decrease of over 10%.
In making my case for a full 10% reduction, I brought forth the following facts:
- We are currently over-budgeted for FY 2016-2017; the budget that was passed in June (I was the only opposing vote) was nearly 10% higher than the 2015-2016 actual spend.
- Under Assessor Mark Dzemske’s leadership the Assessor’s office spend for the current fiscal year will end up being $90,000 under budget, which is $100,000 less than 2015-2016 spend- an 18% drop. The Assessor’s expenses in 2015-2016 were 49% of total expenses in the Town Fund and will likely end up being less than 40% by the end of this fiscal year by my calculations.
- Additionally I proposed suggested reductions in budget line items (the actual budget will be set by the board that is seated after the April election) which would result in budgeted expenses of $1,010,435 against projected income of $1,045,260. A copy of the document that I shared with Trustees and addressed at the meeting last night is attached.
Following my presentation Assessor Dzemske expressed frustration that there should have been a workshop where an in depth discussion could have taken place.
Mr. Dzemske also noted that the Supervisor has not explained how he determined the 2.5% reduction the past month and the 5% reduction proposed this month.
He also expressed frustration that the Supervisor had not connected with him to review spending and budgets prior to proposing the Levy in November or December.
Trustee Tynis expressed a preference for a workshop as well.
I indicated, as I did when board members declined to entertain changes to the budget in June, while workshop would have been preferable, we were in a public meeting and that discussions and amendments can take place.
Ultimately my motion failed.
However the Town Fund Levy was set with the 5% decrease over last year, which is progress.
The General Assistance Fund was passed at $32,000 which is again a reduction but I believe it should have been greater given the excessive reserves and the operating budget.
I hope that the next board will be able to address this more effectively in the future.
With regard to the Nunda Cemetery Fund, I made a motion to reduce the Levy from $19,762 to $1 given there is nearly a $100,000 fund balance and explained to the board that we could use the example of what the County Board did with Valley-Hi relative to the the PTEL lookback clause.
The annual cost of operations for the maintenance of the cemeteries is approximately $20,000.
Supervisor Jennings had informed the board at the November meeting that there was a list of projects that were pending for the Cemeteries, however the costs were estimated (approximately $50,000 in total), nor was it clear if the projects had been bid, approved or were just conceptual.
The motion did not receive a 2nd and failed.
I asked if there was any trustee that would entertain lowering the Cemetery Levy; Trustee Bill Boltz made a motion and I seconded to reduce the Cemetery Fun levy to $10,000. Supervisor Jennings expressed concern about the impact of the loss of $10,000. The motion carried with a vote of 4-0 (Trustee Dvorak was absent.)