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The Village Board needs direction from its constituents. Significant financial changes have occurred recently that affect our revenue e.g. the lost of sale tax revenue and the diminished funding of AIM monies. The result of these changes means that our current 2011 expenses now are in excess of our current income. In the budget year of 2011, $20,000 of the appropriated fund balance (retained earnings) was used to balance the budget rather than tax for new revenue. This is not an unusual way to balance the budget when the fund is well appointed as it was. What was really bad luck is that tax relief was granted in the year before a 2% tax cap was enacted and has now set in stone for the foreseeable future yearly increments in real estate tax growth (assuming the assessment does not change drastically) at a amount around $6,000. On January 1 of this year we did have $275,000 in the appropriated fund balance. This $275,000 that we had been accumulating for ³back burner projects´ like the repair or take down the back garages , repair or replacement of part of a roof in the Village Hall, road repair or emergency type projects. We are not insolvent. Checks are not bouncing now but to ensure future solvency expenses must be cut and new non real estate tax revenues should be found and enacted. The ability to bring additional revenue to the table through our usual avenue, namely the increase in real estate property taxes, is now legally not available to us as the state tax cap of 2% has been passed. Change, rather drastic change, is now demanded. As I see it we have one of two directions before us. We can either struggle to stay a Village or dissolve the Village and role into the Town.
If we are to stay a Village hard sacrifices and changes in the quality of day to day will have to happen. 1. We will have to do without most forms of road repair. We should look to stop the tonnage of vehicles that use our roads as the constant wear and tear of the road surface from their use by heavy vehicles will cause damages that we can no longer afford to fix. 2. Changes in garbage pick-up will have to occur. We can maintain the same service and charge additional fees such a ticket on each bag. We would also have to roll out our rental property fee for each rental unit that we service. The garbage fees could actually finance all the garbage expenses and allow up to move some revenue to the minimal road work services that we might be able to provide like hot patches on potholes. The other option on garbage service would be to hire an outside vendor, and therefore lay- off some current employees and reduce some of our employee expense. 3. All community Village sponsored activities like our Christmas celebration, donations to the parade and side walk sale may have to end.
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4. A complete review of all the employee benefits and a probable discontinued retirement policy that currently covers life time medical insurance for 25 years of non interrupted employee service for themselves and their spouse. There has to be a strong effort to cut back on employee benefits expenses. 5. There will probably be consolidation of the Village owned vehicles with use of extra storage space at the FD building in an effort to cut down on the costs of housing equipment and freeing up the Village owned back garages so that they can be sold. 6. Rental of the top floor of the Village Hall would be another revenue producing measure and should be discussed. 7. There could be an effort to stimulate revenue by placing parking meters on the Village¶s streets and land behind the Village Hall. Whenever a car has to be towed there could be a surtax charge given back to the Village and counted in as revenue. 8. Various other fees should be reviewed for the production of revenue such as wheel fees for use of Village Streets, paw fees for use of Village lands to walk pets. 9. There could possibly be a water fee for each unit within the Village receiving running water. The water pipes are passing thru the Village soil and land and therefore could be subject to a ³passing thru´ fee. 10. Perhaps the Village, if legal,, could collect luxury fees such as back yard swimming pool fees and beer and soda fees for beverages consumed in our restaurants . 11. Perhaps the employment of a part time retired policeman and a very part time judge so that we could catch and prosecute speeding vehicles and DUI people in our own Village and collect the fees. 12. Perhaps, if the Town agreed, consolidation of our road work into the Town¶s program. It would cause an increase in our Village resident¶s town tax to us but their road department is very good and efficient. As we already pay the Town for Police protection this would not be an entirely new idea. Please note that these additional fees and fines can go on and on and we will have to find things similar to these so we can stay a Village and make sure that our income matches our expenses. There are two other matters that concern me regarding future Village existence: Village Administration: I have been on the Board for 8.5 years and have noted many elected officials to resign or move away. Our monthly meetings often lack full Board attendance and frequently have been cancelled due to lack of attendance on the part of the elected or appointed Village officials. Most of time there is very little if any Village people in attendance to hear and comment about the issues. FD control: From time to time the relationship between the Village and FD has had trouble. Whenever we have this problem it costs all people in the Fire District more money and the FD some of its higher trained and generous members. A new form of oversight and government structure may in the long term provide greater peace and harmony within and without the Department. If indeed we stay a Village and the FD stays with us, a greater effort must be made to avoid miscommunication and expensive disharmony will have to be made.
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The other option: Dissolution of Village with a merger into the Town of Camillus. 1. Our three maintenance men would be absorbed into the Town employment. The Town has also indicated that they would try to assign them to duties in the Village area. This offer of absorption of our dedicated employees may disappear after this fall¶s election. 2. Garbage to be provided by the Town¶s vendor. The rules and regulations would be the same as any Town citizen. Most people from the Village will have a very hard time dealing with this change as our personnel service has been so very exceptional. Please remember that if we stay as a Village our service will cost a lot more or move to one with a vendor exactly like the Town¶s structure. 3. Town coverage for road repair. 4. FD as per Fire District¶s new configuration. 5. An attentive and active Town Supervisor and council members There is strong talk of $1,000,000 grant over a period of years to be given by the State to the Town in an effort to smooth over this transition to make it easier on both the Village and Town residents during the adjustment period. This offer will not be made forever. If we have a chance to get this funding the time is now. 6. Creation of a Village of Camillus Historical Area. The Country has promised us verbally to give us free signage and thereby recognizance for our Village area and the role it played in the past to serve the citizen¶s of Onondaga County. I do believe that the history and tradition of the Village of Camillus is a thing that will remain long after the government leaves. I am afraid that further time and efforts conserving the Village government will be very difficult, time consuming and risky. If that is what everyone wants, that is to stay with the Village government, please be willing to roll up your sleeves, get involved and pay for the privilege of being a Villager in new creative ways. The citizens of this Village need to give us direction on how to act in regards to this sensitive issue. Please sign this petition so that we can have a vote to understand clearly what you want us to do.
Anne Clancy 7/10/2011
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