MASSENA - The Massena Town Council is considering changes in its budget process.
Councilman Albert N. Nicola recently broached the idea of bringing department heads to town board meeting months before they create their annual budget, in an effort to gauge how a department would utilize its funds from the town.
Im suggesting that starting in March, we have our department heads in, one at a time, to go over budgetary matters (and) ask how are they (operating with their current funding), Mr. Nicola said. (We could ask, for example) how would they handle the same amount of money that they had last year, and just track their individual budgets.
Mr. Nicola noted the board often does not see its department heads until the council is reviewing the supervisors proposed spending plan. He would like to see a more ongoing budgetary process.
Council members received Mr. Nicolas suggestion favorably, though Town Clerk Georgette L. Davis suggested they first meet with the heads of departments that the town contracts with through the village, because the village has to finalize its budget by April. Some of the departments with contracts with the town or joint funding agreements include the Massena Village Police Department, Massena Fire Department, Code Enforcement Office and the Recreation Department.
Supervisor Joseph D. Gray suggested town officials meet with village officials on a more regular basis to determine how to respectively fund these departments.
In broaching dicussion on property tax rates, Councilman John F. Macaulay pointed out the board has the option of increasing property tax-rates by a small percentage every year, as opposed to a large property tax-rate increase less often. Mr. Macaulay noted the town could have avoided its 29 percent tax-rate increase in the 2013 budget by raising the tax rates 2 percent every year - though this would mathematically result in higher tax rates for town residents.
Should we raise taxes (every year) to make our jobs easier? The answer is mathematically, no, Mr. Macaulay said.
He pointed out that a 2 percent annual tax rate increase every year over 30 years would result in 8 percent higher tax rates than the need system currently utilized.
Mr. Gray suggested the town board might want to consider incremental tax-rate increases, such as a 3 percent increase every two years, to avoid large property tax-rate hikes like town residents saw this year.
Mr. Macaulay ackowledged it was worth looking into, but he pointed out that raising the tax rate less often avoids the year-to-year accumulation that smaller, annual tax-rate increases lead to.
Weve all been approached by people whove said, Why did you raise my taxes 20 percent? You should have raised them 2 percent per year every year, Mr. Macaulay said.
Mathematically theyre wrong. It may be easier for them from a budget standpoint to not get hit with (a large property tax-rate increase in one year), but thats a whole separate discussion, he added.