Verona officials make cuts at emergency meeting

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VERONA — At an emergency town board meeting Tuesday night, Verona officials enacted a list of cost saving measures with the hopes of closing a roughly $250,000 shortfall created by declining sales tax revenue payments from the state and county and other factors resulting from the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic.

The sales tax shortfall was estimated to be about 15 to 20%, said town supervisor Scott Musacchio.

He said that the town has yet to hear about Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) money from the state for road work, and all capital projects in the town are currently on hold with the exception of water projects that would lead to the purchase of water from the City of Rome that began before the pandemic.

The town supervisor added that an application for federal stimulus money geared toward local governments is in the works.

Getting down to the business of outlining what would be cut or decreased in the town budget to close that gap Musacchio said, “This is not anything we’re going to enjoy … I don’t want (the town government) to live off our savings account,” later adding that if circumstances change items on the list could be reinstated.

During the meeting, town officials unanimously approved cost-saving measures that include:

In work and pay reductions, there will be work hour reductions for the offices of supervisor, court, assessor, codes, highway, and water and sewer employees. 

The town board and supervisor are taking 10% pay reductions, and the town clerk is taking a $1,000 pay reduction from the remaining pay periods in 2020.

The deputy town clerk will have their work hours reduced by half and the highway superintendent is taking a 2.5 % pay reduction.

The remaining wages for 2020 for the town historian, $1,120, will be removed after the historian retires in June.

Two court bailiffs and the assessor clerk will be laid off until the situation improves. The town custodian will also be laid off in the same manner, and the highway department will assist with garbage and other duties at town buildings.

In operational cuts, the town is removing $50,000 from a contingency account and removing $6,000 from the summer park program except for $500 for crafts.

Further, $2,000 typically set aside for building landscaping, $2,000 for a rug cleaning service at town buildings, $2,000 for water cooler delivery service and $1,500 for senior bus trips are being dissolved.

The town will also sell a 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, a town business vehicle. It is estimated that the sale will net about $15,000 in revenue.

What’s next? 

The town will reopen for business on Monday, June 1, while adhering to COVID-19 protocols as directed by the state.

Despite being open, town offices will not be open to the public, but by appointment only. Masks and gloves will be worn, and the building will be routinely sanitized using a service from a cleaning company capable of performing the necessary level of sanitation.

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