FORESTVILLE – Mayor Kevin Johnson is hoping Chautauqua County will give the cash-strapped village of Forestville a $100,000 break.
In a letter sent Thursday to County Executive Vince Horrigan, Johnson asked that the county try to help the village with its debts, which will cause taxes to increase dramatically – perhaps by 400 percent.
Part of the reason for the huge increase in taxes is a $250,000 loan that was taken out in 2009 to pay for an emergency demolition on a private building.
“As the Chautauqua County Emergency Services and county engineers demanded that a structure in the center of the village be demolished and remediated, could you please actively pursue having the county honor its obligation and bear at least some if not all of the $250,000?” Johnson wrote.
The loan came due for the village this year and Village Board members discovered that they could not seek long-term financing on the note due to regulations on borrowing for demolition.
About $100,000 of the cost was for disposal of the materials from the demolished building. The building is still privately owned and the village has not been reimbursed by the owner.
The village also is faced with another $150,000 note called in by the local branch of Evans Bank. The bank had given a loan to the village several years ago to pay for the installation of a water line on Bennett State Road.
Johnson said bank officials are putting a lot of pressure on the village to pay off the note.
Village Clerk James White confirmed that board members are in agreement that they will pay the note from funds on hand. White said the total cost will be more than $160,000 with interest and will leave the village with very little operating funds until local tax bills are paid.
At a public hearing on the new budget on Tuesday, residents heard that the new tax rate could be more than $27 per $1,000 of assessed value. The current rate is $5.13 per $1,000.
White said that by paying off the bank loan with available funds it should make residential tax bills rise by about 250 percent instead of 400 percent.
White estimated that owners of a home assessed for $60,000 with a tax bill last year of around $230 could expect their bill to be about $1,000 this year.
Johnson said he believes it is too late for much help this year but the new tax rates will have a detrimental effect on the village for years to come.
The village’s formal budget has to be adopted by the end of April and takes effect on June 1 with the start of the fiscal year.