CONESUS – About 50 people jammed into the Conesus Public hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 16, concerned that the town board could not eliminate $25,000+ from the preliminary budget, causing forfeiture of about $300,000 in state funds because the board’s preliminary budget had gone over the state’s 2% tax cap. The funds are distributed to Conesus taxpayers with Star Exemptions, with checks amounting to a few hundred dollars apiece, but only if the budget stays below the 2 per cent tax cap.C
The board will vote on a resolution made at an earlier meeting to exceed the tax cap at their October 23 meeting.
The difference between being under the tax cap and the proposed budget is $26,915.
According to Supervisor Brenda Donohue at the September town board meeting, the budget is up because of lawsuits against the town and the highway budget which shows a 4 per cent increase. Highway Superintendent Martucio, presented his part of the budget at the public hearing. He took about 70 minutes to explain his 34-page budget, page by page, and why there was a 4 per cent increase.
All residents who spoke at the public hearing urged the board to stay within the 2 per cent tax cap.
Resident Charlie Dickerson commented “A couple of weeks ago, our preliminary budget required a tax levy that is greater than the 2 per cent the state allows. If the resolution is passed, we will not receive a refund check. I urge the board to find $26,915 to reduce the amount of tax levied in 2019. “
Richard Corrigan also urged the board to stay under the tax cap, because many residents are seeing large tax increases due to reassessment and this check would be a rebate on those property tax increases. For instance, one person he talked to was taxed $809 last year, and with the new assessment, their taxes increased to $1087; another paid $729 last year, and will be charged $1094 in 2019; a third paid $2086 in 2018, but In 2019 will pay $2941;— the rebate for staying under the 2 per cent tax cap should be between $300,000 and $350,000, distributed as checks in our pockets and back into our economy…we have done it (stayed under tax cap) in the past, and we can do it again.”
Robert DeLena, Certified Financial Planner, and owner of the Lake Country Echo and The Genesee Sun said, “Conesus is one of the few towns not to make the tax cap, costing a million dollars in tax refunds in the last few years. This morning we posted an article in the Sun about this hearing. Within 7 hours, 1100 viewed that posting, and our people are concerned…..the other town supervisors called me, and they feel they care too much for this to happen in their towns. There are numerous ways to increase revenues or decrease expenses to offset this $25,0000”
Brendan Calnan questioned why the board took on the commitment to sue their own zoning board in favor of big money business over the interests of the citizens of Conesus.
Supervisor Donohue replied,, “The town board enjoined in a lawsuit with Carl Myers because we felt the ZBA did not follow the procedures and did not do the right thing…we also did not have any confidence that the new lawyer Carl Myers hired would do much of anything….and that has been the case. …There are 4 lawsuits, one from Carl Myers, and three from the neighbors…..this one is a relatively minor expense compared to the others…..”
Councilman Don Wester pointed out that he was the only board member who did not want to go to court against the ZBA and agreed that it was an unnecessary expense, and added several places where the board could cut a thousand here and there, and come up with more than a $27,000 cutback.” We do not need $5000 in contingency plan; take $2000 instead. I don’t need a raise…our raises are $2500; The community event bicentennial could be cut back too……….I don’t want to take all the reserve, but even if we took $10,000 we could save $40,000…..yes, we will have to tighten our belts. I don’t believe we need to go over the cap. Let’s come up with a budget so we don’t need to override the cap.”
Board members will look at the budget again, and then vote yes or no Oct. 23 on the open resolution to exceed the tax cap at the Oct. 23 Conesus Town Board meeting.