Blooming Grove Infrastructure Projects
Likely To Result In Small Tax Hike
After painstaking analysis of the Blooming Grove 2020 proposed Budget (pending Public Hearing(s), including many hours of line by line review by board members, they agreed that exceeding the recommended 2% tax cap this year is just unavoidable. They looked for savings everywhere from automatic stamping of the voluminous mailings needed for tax bills, dog enumeration notices and the like, and are considering implementing a number of cost saving measures the next time around. In addition to a lengthy list of necessary infrastructure expenses, health care premium costs for employees went up $113,000, pensions $60,000 and teamsters $75,000. The good news is that pending infrastructure improvements that had been put off for nearly a decade have been completed, and others are near completion. Supervisor Rob Jeroloman said the resulting impact on residents will be in a range of approximately $60.41 to $135.31 for a $350,000 home and $90 to $202 for a $450,000 to $500,000 home. The total preliminary budget estimate is $12,678,236.
Board members Chuck Quick and Jason Kramer recommended better information sharing with residents online and coding of Assessment functions into the town mailing machine to save personnel time. Town Clerk, Darlena Decker and Assessor Nancy Glynn reported on the voluminous work their staff handles on a daily basis. Mailings include 3,000 bills and other communications to 7,500 parcels, all litigation mail, applications for birth, death and marriage license copies, recertification for numerous changing systems, recording meter checks for water and trash, and tax searches for closings, just to name a few. Board member Sonia Ayala recommended raising dog registration fees which have not been changed for 10 years, to an increase from $6/each to $10/each to be commensurate with other towns. Charges for facility use may be considered as well since most other towns rent space rather than offering it for free.
How This Year’s Budget Was Spent
A look at just how this year’s budget was spent shows a lengthy list of completed projects. Starting with complete renovation of the Town Hall skylight, which had to be entirely removed and replaced, and associated leak issues, the work was done almost entirely “in house” by the Building Department for significant savings. Next, the front and side entrances and courtroom were brought up to compliance with new walls to segregate criminals during holding for court hearings. Repainting has just been completed. A new HVAC system was installed in the entire building because the existing system frequently became inoperative. The Police Department went from 9 to 16 officers, along with a new Police Chief. New buses were purchased to assist the town’s handicapped, disabled, and seniors to do necessary shopping and doctor visits, along with opportunities for recreational trips to shows and the casino. A new well had to be dug on the town hall property because of excessive sodium chloride infiltration. Tomahawk Lake Water District required major well system repairs. Lasser Park and May’s Field had major renovations, along with the May’s Field building and Concession Stand. McDuffy Park had renovations, with an added concrete pad for tables and benches in the shade. Design of a new Highway Maintenance storage and repair building is near completion, the existing building having asbestos issues. The Highway Department resurfaced and/or repaved 22 roads in 2 years and purchased numerous vehicles including: a UTV and ATV for the Police Department, Snow Plow, Dump Truck and Salter …under budget. And significant work was done toward timely completion of the town’s updated Comprehensive Plan as well as the joint Cornwall/Blooming Grove Natural Heritage Project to identify key environmental assets that are being prioritized. These will help preserve its all-important aquifer, protect its rural character … especially its mountain views, recreational water sites and beauty along with rich biodiversity corridors.
For one thing there are several “bonds” and “bands” that were taken out in the past that will be fully paid in 2021 and 2023. This will lessen its burden of monthly payments which will, in turn, cut overall expenses. And, of course, board members are always on the lookout for grants to cover any future projects or repairs.
Caption: Town Hall renovations to become court compliant included sealing off the secondary entrance on the left side of the building which was a 2nd access to the courtroom. All new HVAC was installed along with 3 floors of ventilation improvements due to multiple system failures.
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