BY MICHAEL RICONDA
SUFFERN – The Village of Suffern passed its 2014-2015 budget at its Monday evening meeting with little fanfare. However, the budget does include slight increases in utility rates and a plan to stay within the state tax cap.
Water rates will see a 5.1 percent increase from $2.92 to $3.03 while sewer rates are expected to jump by 2.1 percent from $6.21 to $6.60.Village property taxes will likely see a 2.6 percent increase.
The budget is also designed to manage the village’s $1.3 million deficit. A combined total of $249,000 from the water and sewer funds was set aside for deficit reduction, acting as a buffer while further rate increases close the gap.
The general fund will see a 2.4 percent increase in appropriations and a 1.9 percent increase in estimated revenues over last year’s budget. In total, the village is projected to see $17.14 million in total spending, but still managed to stay below the state’s 1.48 percent cap on tax increases.
In spite of the increased rates, the budget generated little controversy. Local resident and former mayoral candidate Jim Giannettino, who is normally a critic of Suffern’s administration, argued it was an imperfect but acceptable budget.
“You can never get out of a deficit strictly by raising rates,” Giannettino said. “You have to save money.”
Giannettino explained he had a sit down with current mayor Patricia Abato where he argued for a number of cuts which could lower taxpayer burdens. Among them was a proposed stoppage of three employee raises which total approximately $26,000 per year, better tracking of overtime and the elimination of a consultant for the Department of Public Works.