Despite the loss of more than $500,000 from its coffers due to lower property assessments, the Village of Lawrence is proposing a 2 percent reduction in its tax rate in the tentative budget for the new fiscal year.
The preliminary budget for the fiscal year that begins on June 1, 2013 and ends on May 31, 2014 is $6,337,317. It includes a reduced tax rate of $70.17 per $100 of assessed value compared to the $71.60 residents are currently paying to support a budget of $6,479,513.
Mayor Martin Oliner addressed the possible tax rate decrease with a caveat. “I am not sure the 2 percent decrease is doable as we have eaten into our reserve funds and lost approximately $500,000 in revenue,” he said at the village board meeting on March 14. The amount is estimated to be $540,632 in the proposed budget.
Village officials said that the lower assessments were not related to Hurricane Sandy. Nassau County’s Assessment Review Commission lowered the valuations of 1,037 out of a total 1,219 that submitted appeals in 2012-13. The Assessment Review Commission decreased the assessed value of those village properties a total of $428,706.
The Assessment Review Commission is an independent agency, separate from the county’s Department of Assessment, which reviews all the applications submitted for a correction of the assessment set by the department. The commission reduces the assessment if the six-member panel thinks the property’s valuation is excessive.
Village Administrator Dave Smollett said the 12.04 percent loss in assessed property value coupled with an increase in expenses and higher pension costs for village employees forced Lawrence to dip into its fund balance and apply $2,001, 684 of it to this year’s budget compared to the $1.7 million that was used in the current fiscal plan.
A public budget hearing is scheduled for April 11 at village hall at 8 p.m.
Cedarhurst is working on putting together its tentative budget, said Village Administrator Sal Evola. The current budget is $1.568 million and included a 5.59 percent increase due to the rising costs associated with the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department, a 20 percent increase for fire hydrant rentals and jumps in health care and retirement payments.
“We are waiting to get information from our village assessor,” said Evola, adding that Cedarhurst doesn’t reassess properties annually like the county, but does it when a property owner renovates his or her home or business. The village has approximately 2,000 households and 283 commercial properties.
The budget is expected to be discussed at the April 8 village meeting at 8 p.m.