Former Republican Councilman Bill Mulligan Jr. wrote that he is disappointed that the town’s tax rate increase was 29 percent. I am disappointed as well. The increase was actually 25 percent, but what I find really disappointing is that a former Town Board member could write something so disingenuous and alarming to taxpayers. The 25 percent increase was only in the town’s taxes which comprise only 4 percent of your total tax bill. So the effective increase on your entire tax bill was 1 percent. That works out to about $30 per $100,000 of assessed value. And it already happened. If you didn’t notice it, you aren’t alone.
So why did we raise taxes? Because we had no other choice. The previous administration, which included Councilmen Ken Breese and Scott Adair, spent the available fund balance. When Jack Moore took office, there was $14 million-plus in the General Fund Balance. When Jack left office, the General Fund Balance was down to $4 million-plus with $2.5 million of that committed to building the new library. In addition, he had committed the town to $10 million in debt, which rarely happens in Henrietta. And he could not have done any of it without the councilmen’s votes.
But once the library referendum passed, we were required by law to act on it. We were able to reduce the amount of the bond by over $1 million, ultimately saving the town $1.76 million. But the debt service payments on the remaining $8.9-million amounts to $540,000. Add in the $400,000 in additional operating expenses for the new library and you have the 25 percent increase in taxes.
Believe me, I’m not happy about raising taxes, but the actions of the previous administration made it impossible not to. Bill says he remains optimistic this Town Board can do better in the future. I can reassure the residents that this Town Board is doing better now. And I am disappointed that Bill did not raise these issues when the damage was being done by his Republican cohorts.
Stephen L. Schultz