The Homer Village Board will have a public hearing at 5 p.m. Monday to waive interest and penalties on property taxes. It is also enacting measures to save money, while helping village employees and residents during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s important that we try to do everything that we can do to make their lives more manageable during this crisis,” said Mayor Darren “Hal” McCabe at a village board meeting Tuesday night.
The board voted 4-0 to waive interest and penalties on water and sewer bills until July.
“Then we will revisit if we need to continue past that point,” McCabe said.
To help village employees, the board voted to continue paying them for their standard work week hours, whether they are able to work or not.
Also to cope with the spreading coronavirus pandemic, the village voted 4-0 to implement several spending changes, including an anticipated $75,000 loss in sales tax revenue.
“We’ll start smaller with the $75,000, but after the first quarter we might have to adjust that,” said Village Treasurer Tanya Digennaro.
Other spending measures:
Small cuts to police service for going to school events, which police won’t need to attend because schools are closed.
The board also anticipates less revenue from zoning and planning because those departments are closed right now.
The board presumes that there will be no revenue in recreation for baseball and softball, but they also won’t need to buy equipment until they know sports are going to take place. Digennaro said the village is still taking reservations and will refund people if the recreation sports aren’t held.
The village expects a reduction in revenue for fire contracts after finishing final negotiations, although that is not related to COVID-19.
The village will delay buying all large items and placing the money for those items into reserve accounts. Some of those items include plow trucks, fire truck repairs, fire department uniforms.
Training that requires travel will be placed on hold.
The board will look to limit expenditures in office, codes, fire department, police, water/ sewer, the department of public works and recreation. Expenditures over $500 will need approval by either McCabe or two board members.
“In essence, we are cutting back to ensure there are funds for necessary unplanned items due to the situation,” Digennaro said after the meeting. “After the crisis has ended, the village of Homer will reevaluate where we stand financially to determine how best to go forward.”
“This is unfortunately the reality of the situation we’re in as a municipality,” McCabe said. “We’re lucky that we’re in relatively good shape to start this. We’ve got to make some serious cuts now because we’re just not going to have the revenue.
Deputy Mayor Patrick Clune said he was only worried about not paying for fire truck repairs if it is needed.
“If we need to make a repair, we need to make a repair,” Clune said.
However, McCabe said necessary repairs will be made for the fire trucks, the board just isn’t allocating any money into reserve accounts.
“Things are going to be all right,” McCabe said. “It’s going to be hard. Things are going to get a lot harder before they get better.”