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January 25, 2011 - 11:58am

Council members say 'modest' property tax increase necessary

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Budget.

Councilman Bill Cox called the proposed 2011/12 city budget a work of art.

Council members Patti Pacino, Kathy Briggs and Frank Ferrando all congratulated the city manager and his staff for presenting a budget proposal that retains current city services and protects cash reserves at a time when pension costs are skyrocketing and sales-tax revenue is down.

The council then approved a resolution adopting a revenue plan totalling $5,578,355 with a 1.39-percent property-tax increase, down from the original proposal of a 1.59-percent increase.

The new increase is less than $12 per year for a home assessed at $80,000.

"I'm afraid if we reduced (the tax increase) it would come at the expense of our reserves," said Cox. "I think we need to continue to build our reserves and this is just a modest increase."

Councilman Bob Bialkowski also spoke in favor of protecting reserves, especially in a time when major cities and the state of New York itself are facing severe financial distress.

Members Rosemary Christian and Sam Barone said they would like to see a zero-percent increase, but Council President Marianne Clattenburg said that anybody who wants to see zero should suggest how they would reduce spending without threatening the reserves or eliminating staff or services.

"If we go to zero, what we're talking about are staff cuts and cuts in services," Clattenburg said. "We're talking about the possibility of getting rid of a police officer -- I mean, we're talking about cutting into the bones of what the infrastructure of the city is."

The proposed budget also calls for water-rate hikes that will add about $13 a year to the typical residential bill.

Before the vote on the revenue resolution, Cox called on the council to give City Manager Jason Molino a round of applause for his work on the budget, and all the council members joined in.

The city council set the public hearing on the proposed budget  for 7 p.m., Feb. 14.

dennis wight
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when will our property be re-assessed and increased?
Peter O'Brien
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"We're talking about the possibility of getting rid of a police officer -- I mean, we're talking about cutting into the bones of what the infrastructure of the city is." No we are talking about not giving raises to the unions not giving a raise to the city manager not paying for jobs to be done twice (the windows on city hall) not increasing an office supply budget from $211.88 to $900 to control dogs upping the department of public works office supply budget telephone budget, and state retirement budget when they didn't use all of it last year and they had no hospital and medical insurance budgeted last year but now they need almost 14,000, personnel services for the city facilites was $46.42 in 2008, $1078.61 in 2009, and $916.50 in 2010 but we need to budget for $71,870 in 2011? they also have spent nothing on hospital and medical insurance though they are now budgeted $11,060 in 2011 More to come later.
Lisa Falkowski
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Kudos, Peter!
Peter O'Brien
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Lisa, that was only through page 31 of the 101 page proposed budget.
Bob Harker
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Peter! Wow!!! Two thumbs up!
Julie A Pappalardo
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Rock ON Peter! Well done! For once we agree on something :) Sooooooooooo, we are getting a tax increase for what? SO, that we don't burn through the reserves. In other words, we are broke, as usual.... How about this solution: Do NOT hire an "Economic Development" person. Start there.
Peter O'Brien
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Last year the budgeted income from property tax was $5,441,630 The actual income was $5,911,872.55 The budgeted increase for 2011 is $146,485 The extra income from last year was $470,545.55 Where did that go? Why isn't that covering the "needed" increase this year? Don't tell me to come to the board meeting to find out because the last one I went to yielded no answers from anyone on the board and I will be celebrating my wife's birthday the night of the meeting.
Great questions, Peter. Of course no one on this council will allow themselves to be held accountable and answer questions.
Daniel Jones
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Peter - Good points. Since I haven't been able to read the budget yet, I'll withhold my opinion on it. I do think it would be favorable if we could find a way to protect reserve funds and try to bring the tax rate increase to zero. However, as someone who attended the last council meeting I would like to say that it's refreshing to see Council move past the endless whining, temper-tantrums and personal disputes that defined Charlie Mallow's Council Presidency.
Daniel Jones
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Phil - You're definitely sounding like a candidate there. :)
John Roach
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Ken, Are you a plumber? Does your hate for Jason have anything to do with that?
John Roach
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My problem with the budget is bringing back the Economic Development position after we got rid of it a few years ago. It’s going to cost us at least $20,000 in city tax money over two years to pay him/her. It will also cost us an additional $100,000 to $120,000 over two years in development funds to pay him/her. That’s a lot of City money. This position will have to generate an awful lot of economic activity to make that money up, let alone make a profit for us. To recover that much money from increased sales taxes or interest on business loans in 24 months will be very difficult. We also have not been told who this person is going to report to since it is not a City job. We have not been told where that person will work out of or who will pay the office expenses. If he/she works out of City Hall, what is the overhead and who pays? To me, this just is not a great idea and should be dropped.
Howard B. Owens
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No name calling.
That ship has sailed Dan. :-)
Bea McManis
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John, I understand your concerns and you have important questions that have to be answered. Sadly, the City of Batavia and our county have been burned by people who were more interested in lining their own pockets, and those of their cronies, rather than doing what was right for our area. Can the city and the county do without a qualified person, with a proven track record, who is dedicated to bringing business to our area? Possibly. Is it better to have any individual interested in coming to our area, or someone already here, go it alone to compete for the available funds in our region? Possibly. Only time will tell.
Mark Potwora
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Before the vote on the revenue resolution, Cox called on the council to give City Manager Jason Molino a round of applause for his work on the budget, and all the council members joined in. Give him around of applause for raising our taxes again...Cmon Bill give me a break..I'm sure that means we need to give him another raise...The federal government just went and gave tax cuts to all Americans..... Coumo wants to cap spending and cut the state budget..And the city wants to buck the trend and raise our taxes....What will it be next year....Peter great job of calling out these spending increases..City Council are you listening..Houses are going down in value,so i would say we are over assessed,so don't you think you are allready getting more than you should from the taxpayer.A number of houses sold on my street for less than they were assessed for in the last couple of years...And then you all bring up this Economic Development position..John you are spot on that one..Its time to look at all these non-profits who enjoy all the service we pay for..Trash being one of them....
Peter O'Brien
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"The federal government just went and gave tax cuts to all Americans...." Not true, they voted to keep most of the current tax code.
Bea McManis
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Here we go again, Mark. I think any non-profit that isn't in the PILOT (pay in lieu of taxes) program should pay for services rendered. I guess we have to find out which entities do and don't contribute. Do you have a list? By the way, I understand you were scathing in your criticism of me for posting on this site. I'm surprised you are posting to a site where you consider only 'busybodies' post.
Ken Toal
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John, I do work for a plumber, as you well know from past discussions. As I have said in the past, that has nothing to do with it. We the people of Batavia, don't have a bunch of people under our thumb to pressure into paying us more money because we blew our budget,like he does. I am tired of always having to try and find more money for my already strapped budget, because others can't spend wisely. Howard, I hope this doesn't hurt your little buddies feelings.
Howard B. Owens
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Ken, don't try to play getting your comment deleted into some sort of favoritism toward any individual. You've been on the site long enough to know we don't allow name calling. You can express opinions about public officials, just don't engage in name calling.
John Roach
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Ken, I don't like paying a higher rate any more than anyone else. And while I have an issue with the budget, show me where "we blew our budget". Back up the claim. It's my opinion your personal dislike for the manager is because he took away the ability of plumbers to pick who could take the plumbers test and who got to pass it. He did that by giving the job to a 3rd party who does not work for, or get paid by the city. Sorry there might be more competition for you.
Ricky G. Hale
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John and Ken, I'm staying out of this one. I'll let you two duke it out, even though I'm VERY tempted to jump right in the middle of it.
John Roach
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Rick, I understand your position. You should join John and I for coffee.
Timothy Hens
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Not that I am a city resident, but did you ever wonder how many properties in Batavia are exempt from property taxes? Start at Oak St and head toward Le Roy on Main Street sometime and keep track in your head. You'd be surprised at how much is off the rolls just along Main Street! Affects your County and School taxes too. They all use the services, homeowners and businesses just get stuck with the tab.
Peter O'Brien
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"Councilman Bill Cox called the proposed 2011/12 city budget a work of art." Bill you know what else was considered art? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piss_Christ
Mark Potwora
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My point exactly Mr.Hens...
John Roach
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Tim, From Oak St. and Main to Clinton St. and Main: Holland Land Office Post Office County Jail City Police Department/Austin Park City Hall 5 (?) churches Public Library GCASA DePaul Complex County Court Building County Office Building #1 Sewage treatment plant County Building (old fire house). Did I miss some?
Ricky G. Hale
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I'd be interested in a list of ALL the tax exempt properties through out the entire city, ALL OF THEM!! I'm sure people would be very surprised to see how many (extra) "bricks they have to carry" because others are not. I don't know about everybody else, but my back is getting awfully sore from carrying that extra load. Is there anybody reading this that compile that list and post it? PLEASE!!! John, I'd like to take you up on that coffee. I'll see Mr. "D" tomorrow and get the time and place, or is he in Virgina? Maybe you better let me know. (I borrowed the "brick" thing from John D.)
John Roach
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Call him tonight. We are meeting tomorrow morning.
JoAnne Rock
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Ricky, here is a link to a list of tax exempt properties in the City of Batavia. http://www.orps.state.ny.us/cfapps/MuniPro/muni_theme/state/exgroup.cfm?... You're right! It was a surprise to see how many there were.
Ricky G. Hale
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JoAnne, I was unable to get past the first page of that site, but am I reading that correctly??? It indicates that there is almost 5,000 properties totaling over $305,000,000.00 in value that are tax exempt in the city!!! Am I reading this correctly, can this possibly be correct??? I can't believe my eyes. I would still like to get each list broken down into individual properties and owners, and have it posted for all to see. If I've read that first page wrong, someone let me know.
John Roach
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Rick, I had the same problem with the link opening. But I think some of the exemptions for residential properties are partial. An example would be the veterans exemptions, which is a reduction on City and County property taxes, but not on School taxes. Each veteran would be counted as one exemption.
Mark Potwora
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JoAnne and Ricky on top of that the GCEDC also hands out tax exemptions and not sure if that is all included..For some reason City Council doesn't look into this when they talk about the tax base..I believe it is shrinking.And this is why we all have to pay more every year..There answer is to just keep raising the tax rate..the tax rate in 2007 was $7.75 it now going to be $10.51..That and increase of $2.76 per thousand...That is a huge increase on the last 4 years..and they want to buy an office chair for 500 dollars..And don't forget the raising water rates...
JoAnne Rock
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If you click on the letter at the beginning of each column, it will open up a list for that category of exemptions. Here is the link for the home page of this site. http://www.orps.state.ny.us/
Angela Penkszyk
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Hmm.. I tried clicking on the letters at the beginning of the columns but it looks as though the website is having technical difficulties now. how convenient..
John Roach
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I want to add 400 Towers, the YMCA, Go Art, the closed Elks building and the UMMC building to except properties on Main St.
Bea McManis
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On Oct. 27, in a discussion about exempt property not paying their fair share for services, I posted the following regarding 400 Towers: "The property in question is owned and operated by the City of Batavia Housing Authority (BHA). As a public benefit not-for-profit corporation, we cannot pay taxes. However, the implication that we do not pay our fair share toward the cost of trash pickup and other governmental services is simply not true. In fact, the BHA pays $45,848 per year in Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) to the City of Batavia, Genesee County and school district each year. We pay this significant amount in spite of serving very low-income residents, for whom assessing an extra fee for trash removal would be a real hardship. Because of our effective recycling and trash compacting program, we only generate about 30 bags of trash each week for the 147 residents we serve at 400 Towers -- far less than the five bags per household which is currently allowed. Surely, the PILOT we pay each year for government services should include the cost of trash pickup in our case. Gregory Langen" http://thebatavian.com/blogs/howard-owens/talk-garbage-and-how-pay-it-co...
Peter O'Brien
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Yeah but 400 Towers isn't going to be affected by an increase in property tax like the rest of us.
Bea McManis
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Property tax wasn't the issue. Mark mentioned paying for services. 400 Towers participates in the PILOT program, as stated above. Posted by Mark Potwora on January 25, 2011 - 7:38pm ...John you are spot on that one..Its time to look at all these non-profits who enjoy all the service we pay for..Trash being one of them....
John Roach
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All non-profits pay for water and sewer. The major on site service they don't pay for is trash, leaving the rest of us to pick up the tab for them.

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