Warwick Village $9.7M budget holds line on taxes but raises water rates

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By John Haughey
— The Warwick Village Board of Trustees Wednesday adopted "a fair and common sense" composite $9.729 budget that includes a 5 percent hike in water rates but holds the line on property tax increases.

The village's tentative 2014-15 budget goes into effect on June 1, the start of the fiscal year for most village's statewide. The annual spending plan is broken down into three components:

$5.949 million general fund
$2.189 million water fund

$1.59 million sewer fund.
Rates
Trustees set the village's general fund - amount in property taxes for each $1,000 in assessed value - at 30.69, marginally up from 30.31 in 2013-14.

They set the water property tax rate at 15.73, up from 4.17 in 2013-14.

The sewer property tax rate was set at 2.37, down from 13.93 this year.

The village's total assessable value was pegged at $87 million, up from $86.417 million in 2013-14.

Mayor Michael Newhard said the 2014-15 tentative budget - it can still be tweaked before June 1 - represents, overall, a 1.25 percent increase from 2013-14's composite budget.

Newhard said the five percent "adjustment" in water rates will cost the average family about $3.50 more every three months than this year.

Water and infrastructure
Water rates were raised "not long ago but, in the big picture, we realized it wasn't enough" to keep the village's water works from operating at a deficit, Newhard said. Without the rate hike, the village would putting itself "behind the eight ball" financially, he said.

"All municipalities are struggling with water issues, struggling with making a clean, safe product," Newhard said.

True enough. The village of Florida last week approved a tentative 70 percent increase in water rates.

Warwick Village Accountant Michael Vernieri said a significant milestone in the budget is that revenues now generated by the water and sewer property tax levies can now be dedicated to long-planned and needed capital improvements instead of maintenance and repair.

"Finally now, after all these years, we're able to use the water land tax and the sewer land tax to put some money away" for "enormous" upgrades in the village's water infrastructure without having to go to a long-term bond or significantly raise property taxes.

"This is a fair and common sense budget," Newhard said, noting the spending plan emphasizes the village's goal of "keeping infrastructure intact and moving forward to make it better."

The budget was adopted unanimously at the end of a public hearing that included no comments from residents because there were no residents - none - at the public hearing.

The second of three village budgets

Warwick is the second of the Town of Warwick's three villages to adopt a tentative spending plan for 2014-15.

The Florida Village Board of Trustees on April 28 adopted a $2.936 million 2014-15 general fund budget that lowered the village's millage by a penny to 36.87, but projects a combined 50 percent hike in sewer connection and water usage fees.

Greenwood Lake Village Trustees are expected to adopt a proposed $3.434 million 2014-15 general fund budget that calls for a millage hike of 97 cents to raise the village's tax rate to 51.32.

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