East Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Fewer flowers will line the streets of East Syracuse this spring and there's no money for summer fireworks. But, homeowners will still have to dig deeper to pay their property taxes in the coming year.
Trustees passed a budget on Monday that includes a 22 percent tax increase. A public hearing immediately before the vote offered residents a final opportunity to comment on the spending plan.
"You have to consolidate some services. It's time that we can't have the luxuries in this world that everyone wants,” said Larry Mosley who lives in East Syracuse.
According to Mayor Robert Tackman, every village department except the DPW cut expenses. But, municipalities across New York are struggling to stay ahead of significant losses in state aid, while pension and healthcare expenses are rising.
The 2013-2014 budget has $5,056,921 in appropriations, including village operations and the sewer fund.
Property taxes will raise 66 percent of the total revenue. In order to maintain the village's bond rating and protect interest rates for borrowing, no reserves were used to help balance the spending plan, according to an overview handed out at a public hearing.
The tax rate per $1,000 of a property owner's assessed value is $16.41. That's 22 percent more than the 2012-2013 fiscal year. For a home assessed at $100,000, taxes will go up an extra $291 in the coming year.
Debt from local construction projects, including work on the municipal building and the Hanlon Pool Bathhouse, account for 13 percent of the budget. The bulk of expenses come from employee wages and benefits – 55 percent.
Last fall, voters in East Syracuse rejected a plan to consolidate the village police department.
"We've had this police department for a hundred years and it has been funded. If you really look into things, that is not where the money problem is,” said long time East Syracuse resident Lucy Anne Forkhamer.
The issue divided village residents and the mayor said he's been asked by several people to consider holding another public vote. Mayor Tackman, who took office on April 1, describes his first month on the job as a roller coaster and an eye-opener.
"Many people aren't happy with this budget and neither am I. It's been very frustrating going home at night, knowing that we are sending a tax increase to our residents," Tackman told NewsChannel 9. "To only have a 30-day window to make decisions to change it, you know, that has been the stressful part.”
Tackman wants to look into the possibility of changing the election period to November, so future village board members have more time for budget talks. Any savings trustees uncover now will have to be applied next year.
"It is a nice community, but you know it is getting to the point where you can't afford to live here,” Mosley continued.