BUDGET MESSAGE - PROPOSED 2010 BUDGET
CONTINUING THE DOWNWARD TREND IN TAX RATE INCREASES
OUR CHALLENGE - TO DO MORE WITH LESS
HOW THE BUDGET IMPACTS YOUR TAX BILL
I want to report to you that for the second year in a row we have continued to rein in the cost of government as is reflected in the downward trend in tax increases and spending in both the incorporated and unincorporated sections of Town.
TOWN OUTSIDE (UNINCORPORATED)
If adopted as proposed the average homeowner in unincorporated Greenburgh, with a $15,000 assessment, will pay an additional $161.28. The average tax bill for town services will be $2,516.40 in 2010. This represents a 6.85% tax hike. Less than one fifth of an unincorporated resident’s entire tax bill pays for town services.
TOWN ENTIRE (INCORPORATED)
If adopted as proposed the average village resident, with a $15,000 assessment, will pay an additional $6.20. Their average tax bill for town services a year will be $75.54 in 2010. This represents an 8.94% tax increase. Less than 1% of a village resident’s tax bill pays for town services. Most services offered to village residents are provided by their village governments, not the town.
Members of the Town Council and I will continue to work hard to reduce the cost of government to you, the taxpayers, while we continue to provide the services that we all feel are essential to the quality of life in Greenburgh. In 2010, we will be asking our town departments to operate with less funding. We will look for ways to reinvent the way we operate government so we can offer government services at the lowest possible cost. We will continue to pursue consolidation, outsourcing and other cost cutting measures. In addition, we need to actively lobby NYS government to enact reforms to enable local governments to reduce unnecessary government spending. We must also address the ongoing reduction in our ratables.
USING NO FUND BALANCE IN B FUND
FUND BALANCE HAS GROWN TO MITIGATE ANY UNEXPECTED EXPENSES
We did NOT use any of the unincorporated (B Fund) fund balance to balance this year’s budget. That is something we haven’t done as part of our budget discipline since before the year 2000. We estimate that the B fund unreserved fund balance will have grown by approximately $2,000,000 between 2007 and the end of 2009. A larger unreserved fund balance will help to mitigate any unforeseen financial problems as we continue to work our way through these tough economic times and more accurately align our revenues with our expenses. We are appropriating $1.6 million of the A fund balance compared to $3.5 million that was appropriated in 2009. We will be scheduling a public auction of surplus properties to generate additional revenue.
2010 BUDGET SEEKS TO BALANCE SERVICE NEEDS AND TAX CONCERNS
In the face of significant revenue declines and increases in costs outside of the Town’s control we have to make difficult choices. Many of our residents are out of work or concerned about losing their jobs. Retirement savings losses and steep declines in home values compound this financial distress. In light of this, any tax increase is too much. However, many Greenburgh residents are equally concerned about any service declines. Our mandate is to represent our community fairly. The 2010 budget seeks to balance the need to restrain tax increases with the services needs and expectations of all our residents.
MORTGAGE TAX REVENUE TO TOWN DOWN BY 41%
NYS MANDATED PENSION CONTRIBUTIONS UP 67% IN A BUDGET
PENSION CONTRIBUTIONS UP 33% IN B BUDGET
Revenues the Town has depended upon in the past have declined, much of which are directly related to the weak economy:
* Mortgage tax revenues are projected to be $1.4 million lower than in 2009. This is a 41% reduction.
* Sales tax revenues are down approximately $700,000 or a 12.5% reduction.
* Assessed valuations decreased by $7.6 million which negatively impacts the tax rate.
* While revenues have declined, some expenses have gone up.
* The town is now mandated by New York State to increase contributions to the pension fund.
* Pension expense in the A fund went up 67%.
* Pension expense in the B fund went up 33%.
* There were additional six figure expenses mandated such as the MTA payroll tax.
Despite the bad news highlighted above, expenses have been cut to achieve a 2.8% increase in the operating expenses in the B budget and a slight decline in the A budget compared to last years budget. Every department made difficult cuts to achieve our goal of keeping taxes as low as possible.
REDUCED AUTHORIZED JOBS
COURT ADMINISTRATOR TO BE HIRED
The 2010 budget reduces the number of paid positions through attrition. At the suggestion of Judge Charles Apotheker, Supervising Judge for the 9th Judicial District Justice Courts, $75,000 is being appropriated for a new position: Town Court Administrator. The duties will include daily monitoring of finances and assure accountability of the court clerk and other court employees. The administrator will recommend policies and procedures, report to the Town Justices and report to the Town Board. The Town Court Administrator will adopt policies and procedures in either of the following ways: with the unanimous consent of the three Judges or with the consent of two of the Justices and the approval of the Judge for the 9th Judicial District Justice Courts.
To offset these revenue declines and expense increases we have made many painstakingly considered choices. There are reductions in controllable expenses and increases in fees across a broad spectrum of categories. The town is continuing its practice of not filling positions as employees leave. The presentation of this proposed budget is Step One. The Town Board has until December to approve a final budget.
In the coming weeks the Town Council and I will be meeting with neighborhoods, civic associations and community leaders. I feel strongly about the need to limit tax rate increases. Any changes which increase expenses should be fully offset by other expense decreases. If we don’t continue to cut expenses, the town could face problems in the future.
I want to thank the other members of the Town Board for working in partnership with me on the proposed budget. We’ve been meeting for a number of weeks reviewing line items in every department budget. I would also like to thank Bart Talamini, Town Comptroller, for his hard work and dedication in the preparation of this budget. Alan Hochberg is the chair of the citizens commission addressing fire consolidation issues. He has also volunteered his time, helping to shape this budget. Finally, I would like to thank each of the commissioners and department heads for their efforts to continue to do great work with less funding from the town. During this period of fiscal austerity it’s their challenge and ours to do more with less.
I would also like to thank our very dedicated town workforce for voluntarily agreeing to the sacrifices they made to help address these difficult budgetary times. The CSEA membership voted for a zero percent salary hike in 2009.
Paul J. Feiner
Greenburgh Town Supervisor
P.S. The entire town budget is posted on the town’s web site www.greenburghny.com. I anticipate that the entire budget will be posted on line after 5 PM
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