SENECA FALLS — Now, the serious work starts on a 2022 town budget.

The tentative spending plan presented Oct. 5 by Supervisor Mike Ferrara showed a 4% increase in expenditures and a 15% hike in the tax levy. The board agreed to take a closer look at the numbers, beginning with a work session that was held Thursday. Additional work sessions are planned for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 25 and 28 at the Ovid Street municipal building.

A preliminary budget will be prepared after the work sessions and subject to a public hearing Nov. 3. A final budget must be adopted by Nov. 20.

Ferrara said the tentative budget includes 3% salary increases for non-union employees and the use of $1.1 million from Seneca Meadows Inc.’s annual Host Community Agreement payment. He said the budget includes $330,000 for the tax reserve fund and $110,000 put into the unreserved fund balance.

“This tentative budget contains all department budget requests,” Ferrara said. “Look it over carefully, do your homework, ask questions and be ready to make changes at the work sessions.

“We re $490,752 over our state tax cap for 2022 at this point,” Ferrara added. “That’s why we should consider a local law allowing an override of the tax cap, should it be necessary at the end.”

The board did vote 5-0 to introduce a local law to override the state tax cap. There will be a public hearing on the proposed law Nov. 3.

The tentative budget includes $110,000 for a new position of town manager, $200,000 toward a property revaluation, $35,000 to refurbish a cinder block storage building at Bridge and South streets for use by the town, and an additional $20,000 to change the code enforcement officer from part-time to full-time. The spending plan includes $70,000 for upgrades to Kids’ Territory and the Bridgeport playgrounds; $33,400 to provide permanent electrical service to a new water fountain; $48,000 for upgrades to town cemeteries other than Restvale Cemetery; and a $5,000 increase in support for the It’s A Wonderful Life Museum.

Brad Jones, who served on a budget advisory committee, said the town needs to start to “wean itself off” landfill revenue in the next few years and should let taxpayers know they can expect little or no tax increase for 2022. The landfill, according to Local Law 3-2016, must close by Dec. 31, 2025. The landfill is fighting that legislation in court.

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