To The Editor:
The Massena Village Board recently adopted a budget that calls for a 4.75 percent tax levy increase. While the increase is considerably less than the 9.7 percent proposed in the Mayors initial budget, it is still too much to ask of village property owners.
I appreciate the work that the mayor and trustees did to lower the tax rate increase, and I am particularly thankful to department heads such as Chief Currier who came forward with budget adjustments that assisted greatly in lowering the potential increase. That being said I do not believe that the board tackles these budgets with the correct mindset. Instead of asking how much money we need and how much to raise taxes by, they should instead be asking what we can afford to do with the funds that we will have.
At the initial budget hearing I spoke and urged the mayor and trustees to make some tough decisions. I asked them to consider how most people run their household. They list and prioritize their expenses and if they do not have enough funds to cover them they make some tough choices and cuts.
Until Massena revitalizes its economy and tax base, we need to start making some of these tough choices. The village government cannot continue to pass along these types of tax increases. Eventually residents will have had enough and will look to leave, a trend that some might argue by looking at the number of For Sale signs has already begun.
I strongly urge the mayor, the trustees, and various department heads to start working now on ideas as to how they can reduce village expenses. They need to start thinking about what cuts and tough decisions may have to be made in the next budget year or two should our current economic condition not see any dramatic change.
I respect those serving in the local government and their willingness to do so in a time when many are not. I am simply suggesting that they listen more to the opinions of many taxpayers like me who are telling them that these tax rate increases cannot continue.
Matthew J. LeBire