Following State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s April 2 report identifying the Village of Valley Stream as a municipality under “significant fiscal stress,” the village adopted a revised budget for fiscal year starting June 1 and ending May 31 next year.
Passed unanimously by the village board of trustees on April 19, the final budget aims to address the structural issues cited by the comptroller and recoup revenue lost because of last year’s pandemic-related closures. The new budget sets the tax rate at $50.44 per $100 of assessed valuation and appropriates an extra $409,958 for the village’s continency account, or rainy-day fund.
Village Treasurer Michael Fox said he is optimistic that this year’s budget will tackle the fiscal problems noted in the state comptroller’s report. He said that the revised budget is “specifically designed” to address the issues raised in the fiscal stress report, as well as concerns raised by the mayor and trustees that adequate funds were not being contributed back to fund balance.
“In a perfectly structured budget, you have the exact same amount of revenue as you do expenditures,” Fox explained. “In this case, we were working from a negative fund balance position, so we budgeted more revenue, or surplus, to get us back on a level fund balance position.”
According to Fox, village residents will see a 4.5 percent increase to the current tax rate beginning with the new fiscal year June 1 — an expected tax increase of $120 annually, or $10 a month.
Village Mayor Ed Fare said he reviewed the previously proposed budget with the board and remarked that the decision to increase the tax rate was reached after lengthy discussions. “[We] thought this was the best use of taxpayer funds for the upcoming budget,” he said at the budget hearing.
This year’s tax levy of roughly $32.4 million represents a 4.43 percent increase, which required the board to pass a separate measure to override New York state’s property-tax cap — a law that limits the amount that local governments can increase a tax levy in a fiscal year.
The board passed Local Law 2-2021 to allow the village to adopt the proposed revised budget. Fare commented that before Covid-19, the board had passed similar resolutions to allow the board to revise the budget.
Village Trustee Vincent Grasso said, “The village seeks that the homeowners get value for that money.” Referencing the village’s “unmatched” sanitation services, volunteer fire services, significant park acreage, and pool amenities, he said the budget is good for Valley Stream taxpayers.
Additionally, Grasso said he believes the increased budget sets the village on the right path for the future and “starts to make up a little bit of lost ground” to recoup pandemic-related costs.
Last year’s coronavirus shutdowns had a considerable economic impact on the village. Because Village Hall had to close, officials were unable to hold the annual tax lien sale, which would have generated $450,000 in revenue for the fiscal year, and the issuance of capital improvement bonds was delayed.
According to Fox, the village also lost $360,000 in revenue generated by the pool and $400,000 as a result of the justice court being closed. In addition, he said that parking permits were down and fiscal building permit revenue resulted in a loss of about $75,000 to $100,000.