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Buchanan Slashes Budget, Still Above 2 Percent Cap

BUCHANAN, N.Y. – The Village of Buchanan Board of Trustees skimmed the budget line-by-line Tuesday night, trimming about $35,000 from the village’s $8 million budget.

Cuts appeared matter-of-fact, as Mayor Sean Murray said, “Why don’t we take $500 out of it?” to everything from the parks and recreation budget to expenses provided for the mayor and trustees for conferences. The board looked to administrator Kevin Hay for guidance, even telling Hay he could object to any cut, although he rarely did.

The largest cut, $23,000, came when Murray said the village would lay off the recently hired prosecutor, and that the five-member Buchanan Police Department would instead prosecute tickets.

The village cut $500 from the originally $6,300 “village elections” budget, though Hay said the village will have to change from the traditional village “lever machines” to optical scanning machines. Hay admitted it had been difficult to ascertain how much it would cost in the future to run village elections with the new machines.

“I really want this below 4 percent,” Murray said. He suggested taking $10,000 from the contingency fund to keep the tax increase below the 2 percent New York State tax cap, even though the board overrode the measure months ago. The village now has approximately $50,000 in its contingency fund.

Other trustees appeared apprehensive at the idea, since it came to light that the village has suffered nearly weekly water main breaks since the middle of February.

“We used to have $1 million contingencies, that’ll never happen again,” said Trustee Theresa Knickerbocker. “But these water main breaks are making me nervous.”

The village receives significant support from Entergy, the company that owns Indian Point Nuclear Power Plants, which are located in the village. Nearly $2 million is paid to the village each year in a payment in lieu of taxes agreement between the village and the power plant.

This PILOT, along with nearly $3.2 million the village draws from water revenues, means the village must only levy about $1.7 million from real property taxes. With all the cuts, village officials believe the tax rate for Buchanan homeowners per $1,000 assessed value will be $228.14, or about $1,027 for the average homeowner in Buchanan (assessed at about $4,500).

The proposed budget estimated the tax rate at $233.11, or $1,049 for the average homeowner. According to Buchanan village officials, another $15,505 must be cut from the budget to reach the 2 percent cap.

Entergy also recently gave the village a grant of $25,000 for a new police car, and $5,000 annually for Buchanan Day.

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