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Russell Gardens officials plan to invest in digitizing records

Village’s proposed $1.66M budget for 2018-19 includes raise for some workers, no tax increase and $10,000 to hire a consultant.

Board trustees in Russell Gardens have proposed a 2018-19 village budget that doesn’t raise property taxes and sets aside thousands for digitizing old records.

The $1.66 million spending plan is a $100,000 increase from the current budget. The village anticipates earning $1.2 million in property tax revenue for 2018-19.

Mayor Steven Kirschner said the proposed budget contains a 2 or 2.5 percent salary raise for some village employees. Overall spending across the village will remain flat, trustees said. Kirschner said the biggest expense the village anticipates for 2018-19 is perhaps buying a snow-plowing truck.

“What we’ve tried to do is keep most of the other expenses in line with what our expenses were from last year,” Kirschner said during a village board meeting on Thursday.

During the meeting, Kirschner said there is $10,000 in the proposed budget to hire a consultant to help village officials determine the best way to digitize records, particularly old documents in the building department. He said the building department has paper files of deeds, blueprints and permit applications of every building, home and business in the village, along with any attached memos, permits or correspondence.

“There is a ton of material in there,” Kirschner said. “Some of it, unfortunately, is duplicative, so we really need somebody who can go through these building plans.”

Thursday marked the village’s only public hearing about the proposed budget. Residents appeared supportive of the plan but also asked how long it would take to digitize records.

Trustees said they don’t want to ask an existing village employee to sort through the documents because the work is a massive undertaking that would tie up one employee for an entire year.

“This is going to take years,” said Deputy Mayor David Miller. “This isn’t ‘We’re going to get a program, load it up, somebody will work on it for a year and get it done.’ It’s not going to happen like that. It’s going to happen in stages.”

Trustees plan to adopt the proposed budget on Jan. 4.

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