New mayor, new rules

Hembury wants ‘respect,’ village overrides tax cap

By Jared Castañeda
Posted 4/10/24

Montgomery Village residents and officials crunched numbers and pondered taxes during the board’s April 3 meeting, featuring two lengthy public hearings: one for overriding the state-mandated …

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New mayor, new rules

Hembury wants ‘respect,’ village overrides tax cap


Montgomery Village residents and officials crunched numbers and pondered taxes during the board’s April 3 meeting, featuring two lengthy public hearings: one for overriding the state-mandated tax levy limit, the other for the 2024-2025 tentative budget.

Before opening both public hearings, Mayor Mike Hembury and Trustee Kevin Conero were officially sworn into their respective positions on the board. Hembury thanked the village for the opportunity and asserted that his and the board’s priority would be to run the village to the best of their ability.

“I want to thank everyone for their support. Now that the election’s over, we can move forward with running this beautiful village,” he said.

Hembury also declared that the board would temporarily remove the public portion from meetings starting April 16. Residents wishing to make public comments will need to write their names down for the agenda, a change Hembury hopes will maintain discipline during discussions.

“I’m doing away with the public portion. You want to speak? You put yourself on the agenda. We’re not having the Jerry Springer Show here,” Hembury said. “Here, you want to speak, you put yourself on there, and that will go until I see behavior.”

“When I say the meeting’s adjourned, it’s adjourned. I want to see behavior here, there’s going to be respect,” he added, prompting a roar of applause from the room.

Overriding the Tax Levy Limit
Hembury announced that the average village household’s taxes would go up by $12 monthly, totaling about $144 annually. The board estimated that it would exceed the state’s 2% tax cap by 4.96%. Hembury assured residents that overriding the tax cap is a normal occurrence per New York State’s regulations and that the village has done its best to keep taxes low every year.

“Several municipalities have pierced the cap numerous years in a row and they’re going to do it this year,” Hembury said. “Unfortunately, it’s our time; we can’t continue to enjoy the quality of life we have in this village without piercing the cap at times. You can only skip oil changes so much before you blow your motor.”

Hembury also praised the village’s employees for providing many in-house services that save the municipality thousands of dollars and reduce the need for contract work. A few examples he listed included the DPW installing Goodwill Road’s sidewalks for only $32,000, as opposed to the estimated $159,000, and the village’s water treatment specialists overviewing the water supply 24/7.

“The savings this village does is unbelievable, a lot of stuff done is in-house. Other municipalities would just contract it out, not here,” Hembury said. “Our in-house office is very talented and they put this budget together. They’re the ones who tell us what to do, not the other way around. I’m pretty much the MC up here.”

Following the tax levy discussion, the village board jumped right into the tentative budget, flipping through 20 pages’ worth of proposed funding for numerous departments in comparison to the previous two years’ budgets.

Don Berger, a resident who raised a few questions throughout the session, asked why the proposed salary for the part-time clerk jumped up from $18,898 in 2023-2024 to $41,718. Deborah Delgado, assistant to the village clerk and treasurer, stated that the salary would be split between herself and the part-time clerk and would receive $20,859 for the year.

“There is an almost $25,000 increase in the overall line. Can you explain why that is?” Berger asked.

“Right now, to back up the clerk that’s not here, we’ve hired a part-time clerk. So what happens is you’re going to see that both me and the part-time clerk are under 1410-130,” Delgado responded. “So that includes half of my salary and half of the part-time there. That’s the bulk of the growth.”

Berger then questioned the police department’s total funding versus the police department; he noted that the retirement funds jumped up from $170,000 in 2023-2024 to $220,000, a $50,000 increase, while the department’s total funds jumped up from $1,101,502 to $1,117,027, a roughly $16,000 increase. Delgado clarified that the retirement funding increases based on the police department’s salaries; as salaries go up, so does retirement.

“You have about an increase of $16,000 for the total police line, but if you go to the police retirement, your increase is about $100,000,” Berger stated. “That’s a huge increase and quite frankly, I believe that’s the bulk of going over the tax cap.”

The proposed annual salaries for the board included $20,451 for the mayor, $11,770 for the deputy mayor, and $10,311 for each trustee. Other salaries included $35,356 for the treasurer, $35,838 for the building inspector, and $19,234 for the justice.

The budget’s total funding was $6,597,312. At the end of the discussion, the board moved to close the public hearing and will continue this review during the village’s April 16 meeting, when they will likely adopt the budget.

The full budget can be found on the village’s website or at the village hall.