Malone OKs budget

Marc Lambert of Northern Perspectives Aerial Media shows off one of the company’s drones. Lambert and his colleague, Merrill McKee went before the Malone Town Board to discuss a Franklin County IDA Destination Cooperative Marketing Program Grant due in February with available funding up to 15% requiring a 50% match. Alexander Violo photo

MALONE — The Town Board voted to adopt its 2021 preliminary budget on Wednesday.

The town budget calls for taxes on village properties to increase from the current $4.40 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $4.69 per $1,000.

The tax rate will decrease by 10 cents per $1,000 in the coming year for property owners outside of the village, with the approved budget calling for a rate of $9.03 per $1,000.

Reductions to state aid could be as high as 20% but the exact number will not be known until December, according to Town Supervisor Andrea Stewart.

Budget Officer Denice Hudson said town department heads were asked to reduce their budgets by 10% in an effort to prepare for the potential decrease in state aid.

The board’s vote follows a public hearing on the budgets for the town’s two water districts and a hearing on the town’s preliminary budget, Nov. 5.

The budgets for the water districts will result in an increased Equivalent Dwelling Units rate for the West Side Water District and a decreased Equivalent Dwelling Units rate for the East Side Water District.

Users of the West Side Water District will see an increase of over $27, with the 2021 EDU rate totaling $90.6102, up from last year’s rate of $62.96345.

Users of the East Side Water District will see a decrease of over $21, with the 2021 EDU rate totaling $129.6489, down from last year’s rate of $151.20253.

Village DPW Garage

The Town Board supported a recommendation from the town’s supervisor to table final approval of the village of Malone’s Department of Public Works garage, citing the need for an updated State Environmental Quality Review process from the village.

“My concern is the SEQR process was done two years ago under a different administration (mayoral) and needs to be updated,” Stewart said, “Without an updated SEQR process my concern is that our approval of their plans may come across as final approval for anything and there might be an outside agency that probably won’t take issue with it but I’m just concerned that the town would be holding the bag so to speak,” Stewart said.

Town Board member Jody Johnston asked how much of a delay an updated SEQR process would cause for the village of Malone.

Stewart said she was unsure but would speak with Mayor Andrea Dumas about her concerns.

“I personally don’t feel comfortable going forward without knowing all the I’s and T’s have been dotted and crossed,” Stewart said, “I see no reason why they couldn’t complete it in time for us to ultimately deal with it in December.”

Town Board member Terrence Maguire said he would have no issue having a special board meeting if the village completed the SEQR process before the town’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Town Board member Paul Walbridge agreed with Maguire.

“I agree with Terry as soon as they can move forward we won’t hold them back,” Walbridge said, “I also agree with the supervisor, I would say err on the side of caution.”

Stewart said she is not anticipating any problems with the project but has experience with SEQR processes that haven’t been adhered to and had to be redone after litigation.

“I think I have always been cautious when it comes to this because of that,” Stewart said.

Stewart said the village project is on Main Street behind the sewage plant.

According to Stewart, the town’s planning board met to discuss the project on Nov. 4 after an initial review of the village’s plans for the Department of Public Works garage in September.

Stewart said the town’s planning board recommends the town approve the plans for the village garage.

Though the project is being done by the village of Malone, the town of Malone needs to approve the plans because the project is slated to be in a planned development area, according to Stewart, which is part of the town’s zoning map.

“It requires special approval by the planning board and ultimate town board approval,” Stewart said.

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