Village taxes to go up 5%

By EJ Conzola II

Property taxes in the Village of Whitehall will increase 5%, or slightly less than $1, under a $2.28 million budget approved April 30 by the Village Board.

The tax increase will raise the rate to $20.36 per $1,000 of assessed property value, up from the current rate of $19.38 per $1,000. The increase will add $98 to the tax bill of a property valued at $100,000.

Water and sewer rates would each rise 7% under the budget.

The tax increase will raise approximately $1.86 million for the village, up from the current year’s $1.75 million. The amount exceeds the state-imposed cap on tax levy growth.

The Village Board had previously approved an override of the cap, which permits municipalities to exceed the state limit but requires that the budget be approved by a 60% vote of the governing body, rather than a simple majority. The board’s vote to approve the budget was unanimous.

Overall village spending – exclusive of water and sewer – will rise by roughly $17,500, from $2.262 million in the current year to $2.279 million in the 2024-25 fiscal year. Revenues other than taxes are projected to increase by about $9,000, from $2.327 million to $2.418 million.

The single largest increase in spending will come in the personal services budget line for the village clerk/treasurer’s office, which rose from slightly more than $60,000 to $94,000. Other significant increases in spending include $18,000 for insurance, $16,800 for police retirement contributions, $15,000 for contractual expenses related to storm sewers and $12,500 for general state retirement contributions.

The budget significantly reduces the amount allocated to police salaries, from $414,000 in the current budget to $337,000 in the coming year. The village force is currently operating with only three officers – down from the budgeted six – and is facing possible additional resignations.

Spending in the water fund is slated to increase about $11,000, from $508,000 to $519,000. Much of the increase is the result of a $20,000 allocation for capital project-related equipment purchases not included in the current budget and an $18,000 increase in contractual expenses related to water purification. Those increases are largely offset by the elimination of a $30,000 allocation for purification-related equipment.

Spending in the sewer fund will rise by about $8,000, from $647,000 to $655,000. The largest increase is a $30,000 jump in contractual expenses related to the sanitary sewers.

The village has received more than $6 million in grants to help pay for upgrades to the antiquated water and sewer systems. Some of those grants require the village to pay part of the cost of the project being funded.