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Village of Lansing

The Village of Lansing Board of Trustees set a public hearing for the 2020-21 budget at an online meeting Monday.  The $2.9 million budget is 18.69% less than last year's budget, largely due to less construction project expense in the coming year.  After raising the tax rate to adjust reserve funds for the past few years, Hartill said he will not raise the tax rate this year.

"In these financial times I would characterize it as a goal and not as a solid device," he said. "We're almos t certainly going to have to prioritize construction projects.  I elected to not increase our tax rate. Then there are probably going to be some people who can't pay those taxes. So I think we're going to have to be very flexible in how we go forward."

But Hartill warned that projected revenues may be reduced because of financial consequences of the COVID-19 for taxpayers and the state government, which just passed a budget, but faces a $6 billion deficit.  State officials have also warned that the budget should be revisited, taking added expenses due to the pandemic into account.

"We've already taken into account a drop in sales tax revenue from the projected 800,000 to 700,000, that's probably still optimistic given what's going on," he said. "So far the state funding is on track, but there's a threat sort of mid summer to revisit that and I expect that to be revisited because the state has to be in significant financial trouble at the moment."

Hartill said that a major water main break on Brown Road left people in the Northwoods area without water for most of Monday afternoon.  He said the break is a symptom of an aging water system that may not have been bedded properly when it was first installed.  He said replacing the old water infrastructure will be a necessary expense for the Village.

"It's one of these breaks we've seen way too many of in our old infrastructure where they dug down through the rocks that we have and didn't bed it properly," Hartill explained. "And so when the ground thaws, as it did this last few weeks, the pipe gets in a bind, so to speak. This is one of these longitudinal cracks, not a break across the pipe, but a longitudinal one which comes from these, uh, flexing incidents, where they didn't do a proper job of replacing the shale with something quite a bit more flexible. And I expect to see more of that, so we'll have those kinds of issues continuing."

Hartill said that the Village can still stage construction projects funded in the proposed budget, including such sidewalk projects as are planned on Dart Road.  But he worried that the sewer project that will bring sewer to the Cayuga Heights Road area, as well as facilitate a new town sewer district may be delayed.

"One of our big projects is a sewer project," he said. "Part of that funding comes through the town from a private individual. We don't have a final document for doing that, so that could easily be put on hold. I'm just trying to be as realistic as I can about what we're likely to be able to accomplish this coming year."

Officials worry that tax collection may be problematic with so many layoffs due to the coronavirus.  That may mean expected revenue for the Village will be delayed this year.  With that soft of hardship in mind, the Trustees voted to waive sewer and water late fees for April.  But Hartill reassured the Trustees that the Village has adequate reserves to weather delayed or reduced revenue.

"We do have comfortable fund balances," he said. "We could actually survive a year if we had to, without any real problems. We have no debt and the roads are in pretty good shape, so no potholes."

A public hearing will be held April 20th at 7:40pm.  Because of extended "NYS On Pause" regulations, the public hearing is likely to be held in a Zoom meeting.  A copy of the budget is posted on the Village Web site.

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