The Seneca Falls Town Board held a special meeting on Friday to approve the budget, which might have gone down as the smoothest, least chaotic meeting held all year.
Taxes will come down slightly in 2017 for residents, as the board cut just under 10 percent from the 2016 budget. The Town and Highway tax on a $100,000 home will cost taxpayers $498, while that figure was $537 in 2016.
Throughout the public budget workshops, which were held to engage the public – former Seneca Falls Mayor Brad Jones asked if the Town could put half of the revenues from Seneca Meadows into a reserve fund in 2017 to begin preparing for it’s closure.
Senior Account Clerk Beverly Warfel showed board members what the Town and Highway tax liability would be if the Town put half- or even all- of the landfill revenues into a reserve fund. That $498 obligation would rise to $762 if half of the $2.3 million paid to Seneca Falls were saved, and $982 if all $2.3 million were saved in a reserve. All of those figures are based on a $100,000 property.
Neither of those options were adopted by the board.
According to Friday’s documentation, the Town will have $333,837.18 cash on hand when January 1st arrives. One point of concern, according to the documentation — the Town would not have enough cash on hand, or in reserves to make it through 2017 — if Seneca Meadows stopped payments for any reason.
This has been an item intensely debated since the introduction of the proposed Local Law No. 3 of 2016, which is subject to a Public Hearing on November 30th. That law would limit landfilling operations beyond December 31st, 2025 — if voted on by the board. Some contest that adopting such a local law would violate the host community benefit agreement that Seneca Falls has with Seneca Meadows, which could result in the halting of payments to the Town.
The board voted unanimously to approve the budget, which features $5,266,946 in appropriations in 2017.
Supervisor Greg Lazzaro thanked the board, as well as all of the Town employees for working throughout the last several weeks on cutting the budget down. “It was a long process. I think we did a good job. It was a tough exercise,” he continued. “I just want to thank the board members, and department heads for doing their part,” he said after.
The next scheduled meeting of the board is on November 30th for the Public Hearing on the proposed Local Law No. 3 of 2016.