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Real Estate Values Booming, Westfield Finance Team Tells Councilors During Budget Review

Westfield, New York — As of today, At the first meeting of the Finance Committee that was held during the entire process of reviewing the city’s budget, which took place on May 23, City Councilor Bridget Matthews-Kane asked Westfield’s treasurer, auditor, and assessor to give an overview of the city’s finances.

Overview Of The City’s Finances.

Matthews-Kane stated that as a starting point, she desired to understand the larger context within which council members evaluate departmental budgets. According to Matthews-Kane, she wants to “decouple” the conversations and keep the departmental budget reviews focused only on the budgets of that department when people are presenting budgets. She also wants to maintain the focus on the budgets of that department.

First to make her introduction to the Westfield Council was the newly appointed Assessor, Ashlie Brown. She stated that the increase in prices in the housing market is ongoing. She added that she is a year behind and is currently working with values from 2021; hence, she forecasts growth in discounts of between 5 and 6 percent for this year and the following year.

She forecasted that the following year would not see the construction of any significant developments or enterprises, except a few medium-sized fast-food restaurants. According to her estimations, a taxpayer incentive funding contract associated with one company is likely to end will increase to $20,000 in tax revenue. According to Brown, it is relatively normal for the selling price of a home to be a significant amount less than the property’s assessed value.

Brown claims that the present state of affairs is “highly skewed, in a way that none of us has ever seen.” Brown argues that the current state of affairs is “very skewed, in a way that none of us has ever seen.” Even though they cannot finance home improvements and have not made any changes to their properties, the values of residences in the downtown area have skyrocketed in recent years. Cindy C. 

Harris of the Council requested an explanation from Brown regarding this matter. They are completely perplexed by your assertion that the value of their homes has increased. “That was Harris’ response.

The city is required to analyze properties based on sales of comparable properties, using the criteria established by the state Department of Revenue. She claims that there has been a consistent rise in the city’s overall population throughout the past few years. She remarked that “it is our obligation” to guarantee that the task is carried out accurately and fairly.

According to Councilor Dave Flaherty, the anticipated budget for the city is $85 million. Because of Proposition 212, local governments are not allowed to impose taxes on their residents that are more than the levy ceiling provides for.

The United States Treasurer, Matthew Barnes, gave a presentation in which he addressed some of his budgetary concerns. According to him, the city has put aside $500,000 to reduce its debt and ensure its stability by lowering debt service costs between $7 million and $7.3 million. According to the health care trust, there will be no increase in the price of health insurance premiums this year, and there will also be a premium holiday in November. Barnes has reported that Westfield’s credit rating has been raised to AA status, with an optimistic outlook.

During their conversation, Flaherty claims that Barnes did not address any of the city’s OPEB responsibilities. How can the pension and OPEB liabilities be dealt with, and what are those ways? He was inquisitive. Moro mentioned that this problem would need to be looked at further in his statement. The city gave OPEB a contribution of $50,000 this year, which is a significant decrease from the previous year’s donation of $200,000 to the fund.

Moro offered the following suggestion as a potential solution to the problem: “you might want to think about investing a specific amount, such as 5 percent of free cash in OPEB.” According to Flaherty, for the city to fulfill these two tasks, it would be necessary for the city to spend one hundred percent of all tax receipts over six years. 

Barnes noted that Westfield’s circumstance isn’t exceptional, but “what’s holding us back is supporting the retirement and OPEB.” Even though Westfield isn’t amazing in this regard, “what’s holding us back is funding the retirement and OPEB,” Barnes added.

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