ALBANY - Senator Catharine Young has secured $50,000 of emergency funding for the village of Forestville for a new roof and other capital improvements that are needed immediately.
Sen. Young said the grant will provide some relief to village taxpayers who cannot afford the massive property tax increase resulting from the convergence of debt repayments and necessary emergency building repairs.
"Families already are struggling to pay their bills and Forestville has many seniors living on fixed incomes. The situation is not the residents' fault, and they need help.
"These funds will be for a new roof and other capital improvements to the village-owned fire hall and community center. The leaking roof had to be fixed right away and added to the village's budget woes. This grant will lift that portion of the burden from taxpayers," said Sen. Young.
Recently, Chautauqua County also helped alleviate the pain of the tax hike with a $150,000 loan to the village. In exchange, the village of Forestville will undergo an audit by the State Comptroller examining the village's finances over the last five years, participate in a task force examining the village's long-term sustainability and seek grant funding for a study.
However, even with the county's help, the financial obstacles for the village persisted and more help was needed. The $50,000 of support from Sen. Young will help to ease the substantial burden.
"The county did an excellent job of also coming to the assistance of the village with a large loan. Working together at the state, county, and local level, all involved have demonstrated the significant progress that can be achieved when everyone is working together. Without this emergency state assistance, coupled with the county's help, the tax rate for the village would have been significantly higher than what the village board approved," said Sen. Young.
"On behalf of the village of Forestville, I would like to thank Senator Young for her hard work to help the people of Forestville. The roof of the Forestville Municipal Building is in dire need of repair and this grant opportunity will help an already financially strapped community. She is truly an unmatched good neighbor," said Forestville Mayor Kevin L. Johnson.
Village Treasurer James White said the village board was aware of the grant before passing its budget, meaning it will not affect the approved 112 percent increase in the tax rate. On March 31, the board approved a tax rate of $10.87 per thousand dollars assessed value. This is more than half of the 445 percent increase first proposed.
Johnson said if the village had not gotten the grant it would have had to patch the holes in the roof and hope it would last until the next fiscal year or seek capital long-term financing.
He said he hopes work on the roof will be honored at quotes previously gathered for the job, which will leave some extra money for other improvements at the fire hall. He said if this is the case, the village plans to update the bathrooms to make them handicap accessible.
Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan said, "I extend special thanks to Senator Young for helping the village of Forestville. Together with the loan from Chautauqua County, this New York state capital improvement grant for their fire hall will go a long way to help village residents get through a very difficult financial period."
Assemblyman Andy Goodell said, "Fortunately, the state of New York was able to help the village of Forestville with this important project. Thanks to the teamwork with Senator Young, County Executive Horrigan, and county and local officials, the financial impact resulting from previous problems has been reduced for village of Forestville residents."
Sen. Young said, "I will continue to work together with local officials to help our taxpayers afford to stay in their homes, pay their bills, and secure a brighter future for themselves and their families."
The emergency funding Sen. Young has secured will be administered through the Dormitory Authority of the state of New York.