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Fredonia mayor proposes tax cuts

Mayor Michael Sullivan presented his 2010-2011 budget to the Village Board on Monday night with a proposal to cut property taxes by 33 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation to a rate of $30.

The budget would also include a $5 increase in quarterly water rates, bringing the base charge to $15 per quarter. Moreover, Sullivan asked for a 20 cents per 1,000 gallon increase in the sewer rates.

The total to be raised by taxes, Village Administrator Rick St. George said, is $2.5 million. The total general fund proposed is $5.5 million with the water and sewer budgets at $1.4 million and $2.6 million, respectively.

"Why propose a property tax decrease?" Sullivan asked. "[Because] I firmly believe property taxes are too high. Our residents also are going to face drastic increases in school taxes this fall. This comes at a time when those residents in our community who rely upon Social Security saw no cost-of-living increase in their checks and actually suffered a net loss as the result of an increase in their contributions toward Medicare."

Sullivan noted that "certainly an increase in the water rate will also affect those citizens, but they do have the ability to control their expenditures."

He also stressed that every village department will see some level of belt tightening. "There are no sacred cows. . . . Each department will be asked to do with less," he said. "We cannot continue to spend without a review of the needs."

Proposed general fund expenditures are up from last year by $173,000. That figure, the mayor said, equals the budgeted increases in employee benefits and the village's debt service.

Sullivan's budget proposes the elimination of a full-time cleaner in Village Hall, elimination of a part-time zoning inspector, cutting court staff to one clerk and elimination of the school resource officer. It also caps overtime accounts at last year's rates or reductions.

The mayor also again proposed the village re-examine how its government operates to lower costs in that area, as well. His proposal was "consolidation, merger, annexation or regionalism."

"These concepts are our future," he said, suggesting regionalizing the police force and fire service and noting there is a proposal by the Chadwick Bay Regional Development group to regionalize water service.

Sullivan also asked the Village Board's street lighting committee to find out from National Grid how the village can reduce the number of street lights it pays for and to recommend better light placement.

The public hearing on the budget is set for 7:30 p.m. April 12 in Village Hall.

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