MONROE-Residents of the village of Monroe will see their tax rate increase 7.89 percent under the 2005-06 budget approved by the Village Board on April 19. The tax rate under the new spending plan is $24.47 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. That means the owner of house assessed at $250,000 will see a village tax bill of $6,117.50 this year, or $447.50 more than he or she paid last year. The 2005-06 budget totals $6,027,424 for the general fund and $1,471,017 for the water fund. The major village expenses are: Police Department, $2,172,106; Department Public Works, $984,744; Fire Company, $264,100; and Village Hall expenses, $419,721. In the 2004-05 budget, the general fund totalled $5.6 million and the water fund $1.3 million. During the initial budget discussions with department heads back in January, the village board was working on a preliminary spending plan that would have increased the tax rate by 14.5 percent, Mayor Joseph Mancuso said. At the April 4 public hearing on the budget, Mancuso distributed a worksheet indicating the possibility of a 19.75 percent increase if all issues associated with a balanced budget were considered, including eliminating all fund balance transfers. This figure, however, was pared down to a preliminary budget with a 9.96 percent increase. The spending proposal was further refined based on a number of factors, including consideration of comments made by residents during the public hearing. The village board reduced the budget by cutting police spending by $15,500; eliminating the 3.5 percent salary increase for trustees; and acquiring $54,000 from the Village of Kiryas Joel for its fire contract. Meanwhile, in other business discussed at the bi-monthly Village Board meeting, developer Jonah Mendelbaum discussed his plan to build an 86-unit senior housing complex on a vacant 2.2-acre corner of the Museum Village property. The project would be a cooperative partnership between Mendelbaum and the Museum Village, which he said would improved the future economic viability of the museum. This proposal was first presented to the board at the March 1 village meeting and was dependant upon the Village of Monroe permitting the developer to connect into the village water system. Mancuso said the consensus of the board was that "we are all in favor of saving the Museum Village." The property is located in the Town of Blooming Grove and Mancuso said he believes that that portion of Blooming Grove should be annexed to the Town of Monroe. The board would have a better feeling about supplying water to an entity in the Town of Monroe as opposed to supplying a separate municipality. Mendelbaum said he would discuss this possibility with Blooming Grove town officials.