Thursday, 13 April 2017 18:37

Village Faces Difficult Budget Future

In photos: The Ballston Spa Village Board in action. (From left) Volunteer firefighters Glenn Bowers Jr., third assistant; Kevin Krogh, second assistant; Michael Bashore, first assistant; and Chief Bill Lewis. Photos by Larry Goodwin. 

 

BALLSTON SPA — In the 16 minutes before he invited comments about the budget from village residents, Mayor John Romano shared his own blunt assessment of the $4.1 million spending plan.

“We’re facing unprecedented fiscal challenges,” Romano told a full Village Hall conference room.

Rising costs, he said, are “devouring” the village budget, including a 99 percent increase in workers’ compensation payments and a 116 percent increase in contributions to the New York state retirement fund.

When combined with “aging infrastructure” and various unfunded mandates from the state, the mayor said, small villages like Ballston Spa are in a bind.

“There’s a lot of hidden issues that people don’t understand,” Romano concluded. “We have to come up with creative ways to increase our revenues.”

Newly elected Trustee Noah Shaw suggested redeveloping for commercial use the former Angelica industrial property one block north of Village Hall. “Those are the kinds of things that jump out to me,” he said.

“The question is how do we build from here” and find ways to ensure that “the village is properly funded,” Shaw added.

About a half-dozen local residents spoke up during the public comment period, inquiring about subjects that ranged from online access to Ballston Spa’s budget, to fund balance procedures, to discounted water and sewer rates.

Gina Marozzi, a village property owner, said more residents should make it a priority to pay their property taxes on time. “Everybody’s got to do their part,” she said.

Romano responded by explaining that an average of $160,000 gets caught up in collection efforts each year, usually for about 6 months, but that Saratoga County provides financial support to the village in that time.

Eventually, the board voted unanimously to adopt the $4.1 million budget as written. An estimated $1.3 million of that amount will be raised through property taxes.

In other business, Trustee Robert Cavanaugh announced that a yard-waste pickup has been scheduled to take place in Ballston Spa from Monday, April 17 through Friday, May 12. Crews will start in the south of the village and work north, and he suggested that residents should act sooner rather than later to avoid second trips by work crews.

Residents are not permitted to mix their natural piles of leaves and branches with any type of household garbage or construction debris, Cavanaugh emphasized.

The board also approved the Ballston Spa Fire Department’s new leadership team. They represent both the Eagle Matt Lee and Union Fire Company stations.

Chief Officer Bill Lewis said the all-volunteer department has nearly 130 members, who elect the leadership team internally before presenting the lineup to the village board. 

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