By HOWARD BALABAN
Medina Journal-Register — The Village Board of Medina adopted its budget for 2013-2014 on Monday night, managing to limit the tax rate increase to about four percent.
The village taxpayers will see the rate move up by 63 cents, from $15.81 per $1,000 of taxable valuation to $16.44. Previous budgets had the increase set for $2 more per $1,000, or more.
On Monday night, the board decided to make sweeping cuts to several village departments, removing $40,000 apiece from the fire and police budgets, $10,000 from public works, and $5,000 from code enforcement. Another $5,000 was cut from the village tree budget.
Overall, the the tax levy will increase from $2,627,973 to $2,722,973.
Decreased revenues, reserves, and assessed valuations actually brought down the total appropriations budgeted for the coming year, from $4,724,288 to $4,688,975.
Reached by phone on Tuesday, Mayor Andrew Meier said the cuts to the budget needed to be made.
“We had to pare the budget down further to work within our means, because a nine percent tax rate increase was unacceptable,” he said. “Now in the coming month we’ll be asking each department head to show us where we can achieve additional savings.”
Meier said there are some upcoming union contract negotiations, and it is possible that the village may look to find some savings during those talks.
“In the end, we can’t keep taxing our citizens to death,” he stated. “The budget is getting leaner and leaner and our operations need to match the economic reality.”
One issue concerning some citizens is a budgeted pay increase for the mayor. Reports said trustees defended the mayor’s raise. Meier noted the position itself has not seen a stipend change “in at least a decade or longer.”
While the $3,000 increase would “affect the tax rate by less than a penny” Meier did note that it is not definitely going to happen.
“If we have to go to the unions for some concessions, then my own pay rate will be on the table as well,” he said. He further stated that the mayoral pay compensation even with the increase is less than that of the supervisors in Shelby and Ridgeway, to name a few local municipalities.
One other area that saw cuts was the village’s tree budget. Meier said he was hopeful that the $5,000 cut from it is a one-time subtraction. (The village tree budget will still have $5,000 in it, but $4,000 of that fund is made of donations.)
“I fully support the work of the Tree Board,” Meier said. “Reforestation…and beautification of the village are things I’d like to see kept as a priority because it’s an investment that will be there for future generations.”
Some reports in other news outlets Tuesday mentioned some outspoken citizens at Monday’s meetings, and Meier addressed those concerns. “We need to have a multi-year perspective when creating the budget,” Meier explained.
“We can’t think just for the next 12 months. We should be looking 24, 36, even 48 months ahead. We have to start thinking about and planning for the issues we know are coming down the road,” he said.
In other board news Monday, the board passed the local law to override the state’s two percent property tax cap.
Also, Debbie Padoleski was officially appointed clerk treasurer and Jada Burgess was appointed deputy clerk treasurer. Padoleski replaced Peg Crowley, who retired earlier this year, and Burgess took Padoleski’s old seat.