SILVER CREEK - It took a lot of work, but the Silver Creek Village Board announced it would come in under the 2 percent tax cap Monday night.
At its April 7 meeting, the village board had cut the budget to $5,000 over the cap. Also at that meeting, it received two bids for garbage pickup, which were tabled for discussion.
At Monday's meeting, the bid from Bestway Disposal for $92,363 was accepted, which includes weekly pickup, recycling and tipping fees. Village Treasurer Janet St. George noted that the board had previously budgeted $100,000 for this service, saving the village about $7,600.
This savings, along with some last-minute cuts to training budgets for the clerk's office and board, put the village under the cap.
Trustee Warren Kelly had suggested cutting the training budget.
"We have cut everywhere else and we have asked our employees to cut, so maybe this is something we have to do for this year," he said.
After some discussion, the board agreed.
It was also agreed $12,500 set aside in the water/sewer budget for a shed addition would be removed. St. George said there will be increases in the water and sewer rates, but not as much as previously anticipated because of this cut.
The previously proposed tax levy was $1,279,484, a 2.04 percent increase from last year. The cuts should take the levy to around $1,267,000, just under a 2 percent increase.
Mayor Nick Piccolo commended the board for its work on the budget.
"It was really hard to get to where we are at now. ... Some decisions were made that won't be popular, but had to be made going forward," he said.
Piccolo elaborated, saying some of these "unpopular" cuts include a wage freeze for employees, eliminating some stipends for positions that previously received them and making some full-time employees part-time. He said the board also eliminated everyday costs, so that any purchases must be necessary.
"It is something we had to do going forward. We are looking and anticipating not just for this year but also next year and years in the future," he said. "I am not going to look back, only forward. When you start pointing the finger (at past decisions), you only look bad."
Piccolo said it was a joint effort of board members to get from where they started at $178,000 over the tax cap to being under it.
After the meeting, Piccolo said the board considered consolidation with the town, but after looking at the nearly $13.6 million in debt from the village's waterline replacement project, wastewater treatment plant project, inflow and infiltration project and NYSERDA project, which would still have to be repaid by village residents, it was determined it would not be in the best interest of residents.
"I am always going to do what is best for the residents of the village," Piccolo said. "If you dissolve the village, Silver Creek does not go away (on residents' tax bills). You would just have county, school and municipal debt."
St. George said she would get the final numbers from the cuts made at the meeting from Budget Officer Laura DiNapoli and will send them out to the required state agencies.
The board will hold a special meeting Monday at 5 p.m. in the village hall to adopt the budget. The village board will hold its next regular meeting on May 5.