Salina (WSYR-TV) -- A $6-million plan to consolidate Salina's Town Hall and Highway Department into one building will be decided by taxpayers in November. Monday night, the board voted unanimously to put the proposal up for referendum.
The referendum calls for purchasing and renovating the Burdick Chevrolet property on Old Liverpool Road. Town Hall on School Street and the Highway Department on Factory Avenue would then move in. But is taking the Burdick property off the tax-rolls a good move?
"It's one of the best commercial properties in the town of Salina. It's easily redeveloped," said Salina resident Mike Giarrusso. "To take it off the tax rolls on a main drag like that is foolish."
Town supervisor Mark Nicotra told NewsChannel 9, "That's an interesting argument, but our facilities are in dire need. We need to do something. The 'do nothing approach' is not working at this point."
Nicotra says buying Burdick and renovating it is the most cost effective approach, making the town more efficient and saving money in the long run.
The town hopes to make up for the loss of tax revenue at the Burdick site, by putting Town Hall on the market.
"This is a sellable facility to someone that will be put back on the tax rolls and offset any tax losses that are within the property,” explained Nicotra.
However, that’s up for debate as well.
"You're never going to generate that type of revenue from selling the School Road facility."
The town does have other options. It can renovate the current facilities, but at a steeper cost of $8 million. Or, the town can do nothing and essentially take the 'band aid' approach and continue to make minor fixes year after year, which is a plan many tax payers would be just fine with at the present moment.
"The work needs to be done; wrong time to do it," Giarrusso said.
"Our taxes keep going up every year. If they don't raise the property taxes they raise the mill. So what's the difference? The tax bill is still high," said Salina resident Arnold Cinnella.
Which leads us to the last, but one of the most important questions presented to the Board at Monday's public forum. How much will this actually cost individual taxpayers?
Nicotra says buying and renovating the old building will cost the average homeowner about $15 to $20 more per year, for the next 30 years.
The Town will be offering tours of Town Hall and the Highway Department next month. The referendum is scheduled for Election Day, November 8.
The Burdick family bought Bresee Chevrolet earlier this year and plans to move the dealership to Driver’s Village in Cicero at the end of the year.