News from the Village
2018 - 2019 Village Tentative Budget Approved
March 19, 2018
The Village of Perry Board of Trustees has adopted the 2018-2019 Tentative Budget and is making it available for public review and input. The budget document is available in PDF form as shown below. A public hearing will be held on April 2, 2018 at 8:00 PM. The Board of Trustees invites all interested parties to attend and comment on the budget during that forum. Any immediate questions on the budget can be addressed by Matt Jensen, Village Administrator. Matt can be reached at 237-2216.
Arbor Day Foundation Names Perry Tree City USA
March 14, 2018
Perry, N.Y., was named a 2017 Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of its commitment to effective urban forest management.
Perry achieved Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements:a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
“Tree City USA communities see the impact an urban forest has in a community ﬁrst hand,” said Dan Lambe, Arbor Day Foundation president. “Additionally, recognition brings residents together and creates a sense of community pride, whether it’s through volunteer engagement or public education.”
“Less than one in ﬁve municipalities have achieved this Tree City USA status,” said Dr. Dan Zerbe, Village of Perry Tree Board chairman. “As a tree board we are proud of what this designation says about our community. Our village board and our residents recognize the magniﬁcence of trees, especially street trees, and want to preserve and increase the number and variety of trees in our beautiful village for the future.”
Trees provide multiple beneﬁts to a community when properly planted and maintained. They help to improve the visual appeal of a neighborhood, increase property values, reduce home cooling costs, remove air pollutants and provide wildlife habitat, among many other beneﬁts.
The Village of Perry formed a tree board in November 2015. Since its formation, the board has taken multiple actions to enhance the village’s tree population. It developed the necessary documents, such as a local law and a tree master plan. That document aids in prioritizing the planting, maintenance and replacement of trees on village rights-of-way and public spaces. The board developed Tree Standards and Speciﬁcations that includes a comprehensive list of recommended trees. It has also reached out to residents asking them to request replacement trees where compromised ones have been removed.
The tree board received a New York State Urban Forestry Council Arbor Day Community Grant in 2016. With those funds the village purchased nine trees that tree board members planted in the village park. The tree board also applied for a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Urban Forest Grant to conduct a comprehensive inventory of village trees and their conditions. The village did not receive that grant, so tree board members conducted their own “windshield tree survey” of all village streets.
In addition to Dr. Zerbe, Village of Perry Tree Board members are village employee Andrew Lowry, student representative Levi Hauser, Felisa McKay, Robin Redding, Lori Schoﬁeld, Steve Townes and village trustee Eleanor Jacobs. The board will plan a spring Arbor Day event to celebrate receiving the Tree City USA designation. To learn about that event and for more information about the Village of Perry Tree Board, see the village website: villageofperry.com. Search for Tree Board.
More information on the Tree City USA program is available at arborday.org/TreeCityUSA.
About the Arbor Day Foundation: The Arbor Day Foundation is a million-member nonproﬁt conservation and education organization with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees.
Request for Artist Qualifications - Outdoor Community Art
March 1, 2018
Mayor's Column - Where do my Village taxes go?
February 22, 2018
I hear that question pretty regularly. Prior to the start of my public service, I wondered it myself and had only the vaguest notions of how our tax money was divided and used. After all, reading that “this year’s budget included $2,482,093 of general fund appropriations” doesn’t really bring it home.
On the other hand, scouring the 640 itemized rows of numbers known as our Village Budget may technically answer the question, but does not address the spirit in which it is usually asked.
So, with the help of my colleagues at the village, I’ve put together a different way of answering the question: “Where Do My Tax Dollars Go?”. I hope this helps!
What Does $100 Buy?
If you own a median-priced home in Perry it’s assessed at about $78,000, and you pay $1200 per year in village taxes. That’s convenient - Mr. and Mrs. Median Homeowner therefore pay $100 per month to support the services of the village.
Regardless of whether you happen to be Mr. or Mrs. Median Homeowner, for every $100 you pay in village taxes, over $90 of it is spent on six things: Public Works, Law & Order, Parks & Recreation, Emergency Services, Insurance and the Administration/Management of them all. Here’s how it breaks down:
Public Works: For $32/month...
- Your streets are plowed, paved, patched, swept, striped, signed and trimmed at intersections, catch basins and curb boxes are replaced, and the village assists property owners via sidewalk plowing (and resultant lawn repair)
- Your brush and leaves are regularly picked up, snow piles removed, trees trimmed, removed and replaced.
- Your sidewalk replacement costs are shared by the village if you participate in the Sidewalk Express program, street-tree-heaved sections are replaced when reported, and annual replacement work is undertaken on the most needy sections.
- Municipal buildings, property and equipment are regularly maintained and kept in good repair.
- There are always special projects (like the Splash Park, or portions of village storm drainage improvements), emergency response efforts (like frozen waterlines or flood repair), and utilities coordination with new and expanding businesses (like East Hill Creamery or Creative Foods).
Law & Order (Police and Courts): For $28.40/month...
- Your streets are patrolled by 4 full-time plus part-time officers. Each month on average, 300 calls are received, 100 summons issued, and about 12 arrests made (about two are felonies, the rest misdemeanors). About $500/month of stolen property is recovered.
- Nightly patrols include business and locked-door checks.
- Your needs, anxieties and complaints are addressed - for example each month averages 10 harassment calls, 10 animal complaints, 10 suspicious person calls and15 lockouts. And your officers also assist other agencies and are usually the first to arrive on scene - this happens roughly 35 times each month.
- Your special events are given extra support, such as parades, festivals, 5K’s, and holidays.
- A safe speed limit is enforced
Management: For $12.60/month..
- Day-to-day oversight of staff, projects, budget, bills.
- Your calls, concerns and visits are handled, routed and addressed, financial, tax and budget matters are reviewed, collected and prepared. This year, a new village website was launched.
- +/- 22 employees managed, including payroll, benefits, and support.
Parks & Recreation: For $6.80/month...
- Your Village Park, Barney Kalisz Park, Memorial Park and the Village Beach are maintained. This includes ball field maintenance, tennis and basketball courts, track, pavilions, skate cabin, bathrooms and overall property.
- Your splash park is operated, supported and maintained.
- Your summer recreation, soccer and tennis programs are supported.
- Your senior programs are supported.
- Flower baskets and planters downtown are provided and maintained; seasonal decorations, lights and banners are hung, and weed control is taken care of.
- Your community festivals, tournaments and events are supported and assisted.
Emergency Services: For $6/month... Your remarkable volunteer fire department is sheltered, equipped, supported and maintained with a variety of trucks and gear, in order to respond effectively and safely to emergencies including fires, accidents, carbon monoxide or hazardous materials scares, extrications, flooded basements, and more, all with an average en route time of under 3 minutes. (Ambulance service is currently being reconstituted under the Town and supported with Town taxes.)
Insurance: For $5/month... The other $95/month of your tax dollars are protected against lawsuits and accidents.
Zoning: For $2.25/month... Your Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals are supported by a part-time officer, who also helps enforce your laws, along with a part-time property maintenance officer and a zoning clerk. Your zoning law is being updated (otherwise this category will cost less). Legal help is also involved.
Street Lights: For $2.10/month... Your village streets are lit at night.
Engineering & Grant-Writing: For $1.50/month... Your village infrastructure and DPW is supported through reports, designs, and construction drawings that are prepared by engineering consultants, and often covered in part by funding secured by a grant-writer.
Computer Support/Systems: For $0.90/month... Back-up and maintenance, encryption, security service, website, email, hardware, software and support are provided for all village data including police and courts.
Village Hall: For .80/month... Your Village Hall is maintained, repaired, electrified, heated and cooled.
Audits: For .75/month... An outside auditor annually reviews all the books, transactions, and revenue for signs of fraud, discrepancies, or accounting errors. This includes court audits that involve sending verification letters to those who have paid fines.
Village Board Stipends: For .50/month... Your Village Trustees, Deputy Mayor and Mayor oversee all this, help develop and review policy and annual budgets, plan for the future, and respond to citizen concerns. As mayor I attend 15-20 meetings each month and your trustees each attend 5-10, including regular and special meetings of the board, committees, negotiations, reviewing of vouchers for payment, and managerial, employment or legal matters.
Communication/Notices: For .40/month... You are provided with information about your village; legal notices about the actions of village/planning/zoning boards; regular advertising to raise awareness of important village laws, planned projects, services, policies and dates.
So, those are the facts, in simplified form. (For example, water and sewer costs are paid for out of user fees and thus not reflected here. Also, there are some other revenue sources other than property taxes). I hope this helps you better understand what our tax dollars buy and give insight into the relative costs and benefits of living in the village.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that your village tax rate is 4% lower now than it was in 2010. For context, other villages in our county have seen their rates increase between 6% and 27% during that time; while the county tax rate has had to increase 19% since 2014. As I mentioned in last month’s “state of the village”, your board has focused investments on infrastructure, growing our tax base, and efforts to restore population. All while continuing a policy of a flat or declining tax rate. The goal? A vibrant, well-managed, fiscally sustainable village that can continue to provide a high level of services, while keeping our village taxes in line.
Many of us just received preliminary assessments from the Town Assessor. She operates independently of the village, town, school or county. I’d say her challenging job is to calibrate property values with actual market value. So by all means sit down with the assessor to discuss your assessment (I do). But if the town assessor and/or grievance board concludes that properties’ values are going up (a good thing) because of demonstrated investment, demand, and the market, please know that will simply allow us at the village to lower the tax rate some more, and still take in the revenue needed to keep up all these services. That’s been the practice of your village board, and it’s also my pledge.
-by Rick Hauser, Mayor
2018 State of the Village
January 27, 2018
Restore Population, Revisited
When I started, we set our sights on one primary theme: Restore Population, and with the indisputable fact that our village had been losing population for 20 years – from 4,215 in 1990, to 3,673 in 2010. That’s 542 fewer people here, volunteering, contributing to our tax base, investing in our homes, starting businesses or supporting existing ones. The concern was that if this trend continued, then when 2013’s newborns were high school seniors we would be living in a village with 25% fewer people than when 2013’s high school seniors were born. Even maintaining our current services as a village would be challenging, and as these were cut and as pressure on property taxes rose, we would be at a competitive disadvantage - creating a vicious cycle rather than a virtuous cycle.
As a result, many of our efforts - investing in our infrastructure, our downtown, promoting fresh economic development partnerships, recruiting business, identifying recreational amenities in which to invest - have had this goal in mind of restoring population and jumpstarting a virtuous cycle. The 2020 census will be as good a measuring stick of our success as any - will we have reversed the loss and returned to the population levels of 2010 by then? If so, we’ll be on solid footing.
There are lots of good indicators. We have recovered from the loss of large manufacturing with many new, diversified businesses. At each gateway to the village we have major employers – some new, some recently expanded, some acquired, reorganized and saved. And if “downtown” were a business it would be the one with the most new jobs, adding roughly 85 jobs there in the past decade or so.
Growing Regional Partnerships
We have strengthened our reputation as a regional recreation destination, and built partnerships not only with Wyoming County but with Geneseo and Mount Morris through the Letchworth Gateway Villages (LGV) Initiative launched last year. The County’s Rural Arts Initiative (RAI) has provided funds to support 11 artists throughout Wyoming County, eight of whom have studio or business space in Perry related to dance, theater, photography, ceramics and the visual arts. The County’s FastTrac Entrepreneurship training, and the County Chamber both continue to support our small- and start-up businesses. Meanwhile, LGV had a great first year and is funded for year two thanks to the USDA, the three villages and their respective towns. The initiative already has provided business assistance and developed strategic direction for the future based in part on results of a summer-long survey of Letchworth Park visitors and what they’re looking for (One example: if you’re interested in being an AirBnB host, let me know - we’ll be helping folks get established in 2018 to host visitors, earn some income, and encourage those visitors spend more time locally).
We’ve seen millions of dollars of private investment in new and expanded factories and equipment in the past four years. One example? Creative Food Ingredients - our progressive, meticulous and delicious-smelling cookie (ingredient) factory - is in the midst of its second multi-million dollar facilities upgrade in the past 4 years; each has resulted in job opportunities that are largely filled locally. Newer businesses - such as East Hill Creamery and Silver Lake Brewing Project - have become regional models, hosting tours and inspiring the next generation of new enterprises. Like our established businesses, they also benefit from loyal locals like you, who walk the walk when it comes to “shop locally”. Plus, Perry broke through regionally via “destination tourism”-themed publicity, with multi-page spreads last summer in the Democrat & Chronicle and (585) Magazine.
This all isn’t just great news for jobs and the economic ripple effect. Let’s talk numbers. We’ve seen over $20 million of investment in properties over the past three years. The Village of Perry has led Wyoming County in the number of building permits issued, and in the total cost of construction. Increased demand from homebuyers have resulted in the median home sale price increasing 9% over one year ago, while the inventory of homes for sale has dropped 22%.
Over the next 5, 10 and 15 years, it is investments like these that stabilize our tax base and allow us to maintain a high level of village services while lowering your tax rate. On that front - so far, so good: your village tax rate is 2% lower than it was 9 years ago,. By way of comparison, neighboring villages have seen their rates increase by 7%, 16%, 22% and 28% during that time.
The village continues to invest in its infrastructure too. We are poised this spring to complete the latest $700,000 drainage improvement project, this time on South Main Street. These drainage projects not only keep basements from flooding. They also deal with serious interconnection problems between our stormwater collection system and our sanitary (wastewater) treatment plant. When stormwater finds its way to the plant, we waste resources treating it, and sometimes it overloads our capacity.
To that end, we’re in the midst of a $7 million investment in our wastewater treatment plant. Phase I is almost complete and Phase II will happen over the next year or so. In 2016, we completed $1.4 million of work via the Main Street Improvement Project fixing drainage, replacing streetlights and sidewalks, creating a more accommodating pedestrian environment, and helping re-activate downtown’s traditional role as a civic and commercial center. In 2017 we completed $200,000 of road paving and sidewalk repair/replacement, hitting streets based on an updated condition survey. Sidewalk-wise, Covington, Leicester, Church, North and South Main were the main targets, along with neighbors who signed up for the village’s Sidewalk Express program. The village plans to allocate more funding towards paving and sidewalks in 2018.
Businesses and Buildings
In 2017 alone, you witnessed the renovation of no fewer than 18 commercial spaces or facades in the downtown alone (yes, 18; that’s not a misprint); throughout the village seven new businesses opened and five more expanded, relocated and grew employment.
In 2018, 11 additional upper-floor residential units will be coming online, and my best guess is we will see at least seven more new businesses opening this year. The Village plays our part in all this - supporting and connecting entrepreneurs and existing owners with resources, seeking and administering grant programs that help owners take the leap and invest their own substantial dollars and sweat into their properties. We also just launched the Building Improvement Loan (BIL) fund to help commercial properties needing investment. Inquire within.
Take Stock, Abate, Enforce, Assist
We undertook a vacant parcel inventory to better understand our potential assets and be poised to recruit developers. The proposed Perry Knitting Mill Apartments is one result of being prepared when developers come knocking - final word on funding for that project will happen this spring. It would add 48 fully accessible housing units aimed at seniors and veterans, an identified need in our comprehensive plan, plus millions invested in a former factory that had an uncertain future, and add annual payments to the village and town to support emergency services and fire truck replacement needs. We’re now working with the Center on Leicester Street owners on a plan to create up to 10 additional apartments on the largely vacant 1st floor.
Another component of making Perry a place of choice for residents is an expectation that reasonable standards of property maintenance that are currently law - in order to protect property value and prevent blight - will be enforced. Over three years ago we added a part-time property maintenance officer. In the short time since, over 160 property owners have completed related work, and another 93 are in process. Thank you to everyone for stepping up as part of this community-wide effort.
On the incentive side, we’ve adopted property tax abatements and supported County-led PILOTS (Payments-In-Lieu-Of-Taxes) that give owners of residential and mixed-use properties a way to defer increases in their property’s assessed value that would result from improvements. Yes, that’s right - if you make improvements to your home that increases its value, the village will abate any increase in property taxes for a period of eight years.
These recruitment tools, incentives and heightened expectations of basic standards were augmented by $400,000 over the past few years in funding the Village obtained to assist income-qualified owners with essential repairs to single-family, owner-occupied homes throughout the village. That program helped two dozen homeowners and has been closed out. If you think you’d be interested in a “Round 2”, please leave contact information with the village clerk. When we have enough demonstrated demand to re-apply, we will do so.
With broad citizen involvement, we rewrote the comprehensive/strategic plan for the village and are following its priority action plan. This guiding document is also now helping us with the updating of our village zoning laws to help guide and direct future development, and what our community will look like. We’ve been at that for 18 months and are looking to finalize things this spring.
Wherever funding exists to support building owners and developers with planned improvements, your village has stepped up to pursue it on their behalf. That’s why you saw significant private-sector investment in buildings throughout Perry in 2017, including downtown where a $500,000 Restore New York Grant is helping with over $1.5 million worth of investment on the long-vacant N. Main block, and a $275,000 New York Main Street Program assisted a dozen other property owners with renovations and facade work. Some new Letchworth Park and Historic District signage just went up as a result of that program as well. Did you spot them?
Jumpstarting the Virtuous Circle
All of this takes us back to the goal of jumpstarting a virtuous cycle of investment. Such investment in improved conditions (infrastructure, appearance and amenities) strengthens your community’s image, resulting in improved market demand, which in turn strengthens your tax base and thus your village’s fiscal capacity to continue to invest while keeping taxes lower. That is a recipe for long-term success - and we are nothing if not in it for the long haul.
Building Improvement Loan Program Adopted
January 2, 2018
Two different projects types are expected to be available for funding:
Façade Renovation - This program includes projects that address the structural repair, maintenance, and preservation for street-facing exteriors of commercial, industrial, historical, and landmark buildings within the Village. Loans range from $500-$2,500.
Adaptive Reuse – This program includes construction efforts that re-use a pre-existing building or site within the Village for a purpose other than what it was originally built or designed for or to significantly update the physical nature of the building to improve utilization of the space. Loans range from $2,500-$25,000.
Jensen Tapped to be Village Administrator
May 1, 2017
Jensen has a Masters in Public Administration and brings that professional training and his broad experience to the role of Village Administrator. In his previous roles, he gained practical experience working with team members, handling municipal budgets, implementing technology, and managing complex projects.
"I am thrilled that the Village of Perry is giving me the opportunity to serve as Village Administrator,” Jensen shared. “I look forward to working with the established and experienced staff and elected officials. My family and I are excited to become part of the community. I fell in love with the area when I came out for my interview. Perry has great potential for continued community development while maintaining the unique and treasured local identity it has.”
Matt will start in the position on May 22, 2017.
Tree Law Adopted
February 21, 2017
It is the purpose and intent of this law to promote and protect the public health, safety and general welfare by providing for the regulation of the planting, maintenance and removal of trees within the Village of Perry which are on Village property or within the right-of-way of any public street. It is also the purpose of this law to establish and maintain diversity of tree species and maximize tree canopy through tree planning and preservation.
May 31, 2016
Perry has an Official Book, Henry Loves Hills
October 1, 2015
The book is written by Perry native Patrick Brennan and loosely recounts an experience he had on a school bus ride during the Blizzard of '77. Dan Butler, Perry resident, illustrated the book.
Perry's Official Book is a project of Read Around Perry, a Perry Rotary Initiative, and the Town of Perry Bicentennial Committee.