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Guest Column: Mayor Keith T. Pierce

“I'm proud of this budget”

ODESSA, March 6 -- This year's budget process has been an interesting one. I've been waiting until it was done to bring you all the latest. As many of you may know, our County is now at 100% valuation. What that means is a large tax increase for some and a lowering of taxes for others.

The Village's present tax rate per $1,000 is $9.07. If the board chose to keep the tax rate there, it would mean a windfall for the Village. On the other hand, it would mean a lot of pain for many of our residents (some would see their taxes double) who are allready struggling to get by, many on fixed incomes. With that in mind, I and the other board members have chosen to drop the Village's tax rate to $6.50 per $1,000 of assessed value. This does not mean there won't be people paying higher taxes; some will. Others will see their taxes drop. We have no control over this, since it is entirely connected to the revaluation recently completed.

I am very proud of this budget and all the hard work that your Village Board has put into it. It is never easy deciding how to spend other people's money, and I assure you everyone on the Board thinks of it in that way.

The increases in spending come mostly within the Village's DPW Department. This department has made great strides and improvements in the last six months, and we all wanted to keep that trend moving forward. As I have said in the past, our infrastructure, i.e. the water system and roads, is one of our largest hurdles in the near future. What many of you may not realize is that your present Village Board has been taking steps for several years now to help us prepare for these expenses. For instance, we have been placing away a little over $6,000 per year for the next time we need to purchase a Village truck. WIth the next budget, we will have a total of $24,000 in the unappropriated funds balance for that inevitable purchase. We've also been able to, on a lesser scale, have some money put aside for our water system to help with those little problems that always seem to pop up. For instance, we now have both of our wells up and working after many years of getting by on just one. This is the first time since the late 1990s, to my knowledge, that both wells are up and working, and we were able to do that through careful planning and foresight.

Speaking of the water system: Within our next budget, there will be a small increase in the usage rate. As I've said in years past, this increase is something we need to do in order to pay the bond payment on the system. The bond was structured in such a way that the payment increases each year until a certain year, at which time it begins to go back down slowly, then is paid off. The payments will start to go down in the 2013-2014 budget and will be paid off in full by 2020. The increase amounts to 10 cents per 1,000 gallons of water used.

Just one last little piece of information for all of you on our budget for last year, which will show you all how closely we live within our means. Our projection for the end of our fiscal year is that we will be $3,000 over budget. Why, you may ask? After adding up all expenses from last year, the petition process that forced a vote on Village dissolution cost the Village taxpayers $3,000.

The final topic I will discuss is the upcoming election. We all saw a historical event on December 7th with a voter turnout of over 60% on the dissolution question. That's amazing, and we need to see that again. I know you're asking why, when the candidates -- myself and trustees Robin Thoman and Shawn Crane -- are all running unapposed.

Well, just because no one else went through the arduous task of getting petitions signed doesn't mean they're not running. It is a commonly known fact that there is a small movement out there whose only goal is to get the present Board and Mayor thrown out in hopes of bringing up the dissolution question again without waiting for four years. I would have no problem running against a competitor and debating the issues we all face, but I'm not able to under these circumstances. All I can do is bring you the information, and you decide for yourself if we on the Board are doing our jobs. If you think we are, and you appreciate it, then I strongly encourage you all to vote on Tuesday, March 15, from 12:00 noon to 9 p.m. at the Municipal Building.

Don't take anything for granted. Let your voice be heard just as it was in December!

Your Mayor,
Keith T. Pierce


Village Board members

Pictured below, from left: Mayor Keith Pierce and Village Board Trustees Peggy Tomassi, Timothy Hickis, Robin Thoman and Shawn Crane.

Mayor: Keith Pierce

Trustees: Peggy Tomassi, Robin Thoman, Shawn Crane, Timothy Hicks

Village Clerk: Kristi Pierce, 300 E. Main St., Odessa, 594-2100

Department of Public Works: Mark Candido

Village Justice: Ronald Goossen

Municipal Building: 300 E. Main St., Odessa, 594-3792

Dutton S. Peterson Memorial Library: 106 First St., Odessa, 5942791


Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Thomas Gifford, Dennis Fagan, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison

Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone

Legislature Members:

Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967

Doris L. Karius, 546-5544

Barbara Halpin, 594-3683

Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385

Thomas Gifford, Montour Falls

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen

Stewart Field, Reading Center

County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383


State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed

United States House of Representatives
1208 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
DC Phone: 202-225-3161
DC Fax: 202-226-6599

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 415, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Christopher Friend -- Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
Room 720, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4538


© The Odessa File 2010
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869