BY MICHAEL RICONDA
The Suffern Village Board met on the evening of April 1 to vote on the village budget, clearing a plan with a two percent village tax and several last-minute amendments to items such as sewer and water rates.
Mayor Dagan LaCorte explained that according to a preliminary budget report, this would be the third year in a row when the village budget was in the black, with a positive fund balance of $16,000.
“For us to be within one half or one third of one percent of what we originally projected for three years now is a testament to the hard work of all our department heads, the board members here and our treasurer Tom Zordan,” LaCorte said.
Major expenditures for this year included a $1 million dedication to a revamped sewer plan, new equipment for the fire department, a new patrol vehicle, and roadway improvements.
According to LaCorte, the only change since the public hearing was a decrease in the tax levy from 1.78 to 1.58 percent, representing a voluntary increase in funds provided to the village by the Salvation Army.
Two amendments were also made to sewer and water rates. A 3.9 percent sewer rent increase and 2.8 percent increase in water rates will aim to pay down the long-term deficit for both utilities.
“The board is committed to eliminating the water deficit by May 31, 2016, a year ahead of the sewer deficit,” LaCorte said.
A third amendment to the budget to express intent to pursue an emergency crossing over the New Jersey Transit railroad was proposed by John Meehan. Though it was initially proposed as a resolution to amend the capital budget to fund the project, concerns were raised that grant money would be unavailable and the town would be forced to pay out of pocket for the $150,000 project.
The budget process this year was changed to a more direct format to allow greater public participation. After the budget was released online by the village, a public hearing was held to generate recommendations and critiques, after which the April 1 meeting was held to finalize the budget.
In addition to the budget passage, a number of events were cleared and scheduled, including the Hose Company’s Second Annual Car Show on July 27, the Rockland County Explorer Car Wash on April 27, Kentucky Derby Day on May 4, and the Suffern Little League Opening Day Parade on April 6.