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Budget adopted

MILLERTON — The village has adopted its budget for the upcoming year. The Village Board did so quickly and quietly at its organizational meeting on Monday, April 4, following a public hearing that drew no comments or controversy. The amount to be raised by taxes is $389,542. The tax rate per $1,000 is 4.88, an increase of roughly 2.5 percent from last year, which was right on target, according to Millerton Mayor John Scutieri.“I am confident the budget we designed perfectly fit for what the economy and recession was for us,” he said. “It was right in keeping with pretty much everything that is going around.”Even so, the mayor said he realizes it’s difficult for some taxpayers to grasp why there has to be any increase at all.“A lot of people don’t understand why we have to raise taxes, but the situation is that municipalities gain revenues for towns and villages several different ways,” Scutieri said. “Tax rates are based on mortgages taxes and sales taxes, and when people go shopping locally a percentage of that sales tax goes back to the municipalities. Retail is way down and that affects how local government works. That’s part of the struggle. Revenues are way down from mortgage and sales tax revenues and we need to gain funds through tax rates. All we’re doing is paying bills. We’re not building our budget to create big projects.”For the upcoming year, the amount to be raised by taxes in the village’s budget went up by about 4.5 percent. To get to that figure, the Village Board had to do some serious number crunching, according to the mayor, who said he thought his board did a great job.“I’m pleased with the budget,” he said. “It’s hard to explain why anybody would like to see an increase in the budget and make sense of it. There are a lot of projects I would like to see done, that the board would like to see done, that taxpayers would like to see done and that merchants would like to see done.”But funding places major restrictions on the best of plans. That only serves as motivation to his board, said Scutieri, who praised the village trustees for seeking alternative funding for village projects.“In all the years I’ve been on the board I’ve never worked with a board more in tune with grant writing,” he said. “Grants are not abundant, so it’s still a struggle, but we just keep focused on grant writing.”One of the largest grants the village has received recently has been from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for a photovoltaic system for the village’s highway garage. The grant awarded the village roughly $300,000, the mayor said, with the village contributing around $28,000 — a bargain — to get the building energy efficient and green all in one. That work started last week and is expected to wrap up by month’s end.Next up on the village’s list is to make good on a sidewalk grant from 2009; bids were expected to be opened the week of April 11. The municipality was awarded $125,000 through a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to replace sidewalks throughout the village. Trouble spots and damaged walkways throughout the village will be repaired in order of priority, something the mayor has wanted to do for a very long time.“Convenience and safety,” he said. “Someone could get hurt;it happens. There are 10 miles of sidewalks to take care of and it’s very expensive, almost $50 a foot by the time we tear up the old and replace the new, so I’m glad we have the grant and can get to work.”The village had to contribute $75,000 to the sidewalk grant (which totaled $200,000); it has taken out a bond anticipation note to do so, which it will pay back during a five-year period beginning in 2012.

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