The Sleepy Hollow Board of Trustees began their budget talks on Tuesday with the aim of reducing a proposed 5.05 percent tax increase on homestead properties.
The Tuesday session largely focuses on some of the higher-end spending areas in the village – the Police Department and the Fire Department. In total, public safety spending accounts for about 21 percent of the General Fund budget, with the Police Department accounting for over 85 percent of that portion.
Trustees first started with the Fire Department. Fire Chief John Korzelius came to the board requesting more than the proposed 2011-2012 budget had accounted for. In total, the department requested an additional $57,000 in spending on top of the roughly $190,000 already tentatively earmarked.
Korzelius said that a majority of the requested funding would be to fulfill mandates and make sure that all members of the Fire Department were properly geared up. The Sleepy Hollow Fire Department has recently seen a large influx in young members. Korzelius said that all of those new recruits needed pagers, training and gear.
"It's a blessing to have all these kids, but now I have to clothe them and buy them equipment," Korzelius said.
He went on to explain that the department was attempting to cut costs by limiting the amount of trucks responding to medical emergencies. He also noted the department was only blowing their whistle in case of fire calls as a courtesy to village residents.
Of the department's requested budget, $28,000 is earmarked for equipment. Korzelius also noted that mandates for training meant that the department needed to spend more on professional development.
Even with the increases in operating funds, looking forward, the village will have to come to terms with the fact that three fire engines are approaching the 20-year mark, which is usually the time they are replaced.
The Columbia Hose truck is 20 years old, the Fire Patrol engine is 19 years old, and the village's ladder engine is 18 years old.
Korzelius said the village could defray some of the costs by planning for the purchases now, and perhaps making a tiered, bulk-order purchase for all three trucks over the period of three years.
"Every year truck prices go up and up," he said.
Police Department Down Staff
For the Sleepy Hollow Police Department, much of the budget was put together by former Police Chief John Kapica before he formally stepped down earlier this year.
While Police Chief Greg Camp said the budget was fairly routine, he noted the department is struggling. Officially, the department is supposed to have 27 officers, it currently has 25.
"Our call volume has gone up," Camp said. "But department-wise we stayed the same and we are actually down a couple officers."
Trustees learned that the current draft budget did not include the two positions missing within the department.
"So, we're $130,000 short," said Trustee David Schroedel.
Another thing that could impact the budget is if a full contact with the union representing police officers is signed. Currently the village and the Police Benevolent Association are in contract negotiations.
One of the biggest expenditures of the department's roughly $3.2 million budget is on overtime. The village is anticipating over $330,000 in overtime expenditures during 2011-2012.
Camp said they could help offset that number by hiring a part-time desk officer, which would free up a patrol officer to be out on the street.
Trustees asked if the department could get by on 25 people, with the additional civilian desk position, but Camp was straight forward, noting that if anything happened to his officers, the village would pay more in overtime.
"We can function like that, but if we lose another officer or if someone gets hurt or injured, then we're going to spend more money to cover those positions," Camp said.
Building Department Looks Toward Rivers Edge Development
For the 2011-2012 fiscal year, the building department is looking to make one of its part-time staff positions a full-time position, and create another part-time housing inspector position.
However, the budget of the Building Department is also relying on some permits that will offset the costs of the new staff positions.
While Village Building Inspector Sean McCarthy said annual permitting is down in the village, around 1,200 per year as opposed to 14,000 or more per year, the village could expect one large development to begin – the Rivers Edge project planned at the site of the Castle Oil facility.
However, McCarthy noted the budget didn't expect any revenues from GM in the next year.
"GM is not in this budget, but Rivers Edge is in this budget," McCarthy said.