December 1, 2020
Most of the meeting was devoted to a public hearing on 2021 Preliminary Budget
After hearing several speakers question parts of the Preliminary Budget and ask the board to reconsider the budget before voting to adopt a 2021 budget, the board voted to adjourn the hearing. (Note: the board as until December 20 to adopt the 2021 budget.)
Several speakers questioned whether the budget’s projected sales tax revenue for 2021 was overly optimistic in light of the 6% decrease in the county budget’s 2021 sales tax projection. And while the town comptroller said she expected the town to meet its 2020 projected sales tax revenue number, one speaker pointed out that the county has reduced its projected 2020 sales tax revenue.
Mark Lieberman called attention to the fact that the budget was using the wrong 2020 tax rates when it compared the 2020 taxes to the proposed 2021 taxes. Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, followed up on that point noting that while the Preliminary Budget showed a 2021 savings of $13 for the typical homeowner with a $10,000 assessed value, when the correct 2020 tax rate numbers were used, the result was a $3.36 tax increase for the same homeowner.
Several speakers, including former Supervisor Ilan Gilbert, his assistant Stewart Glass and Susan Siegel, questioned the proposed cut in the water district tax. All three noted the many capital improvement projects that the water district needs. Supervisor Slater agreed that many projects were needed and said that a start was being made by budgeting some money in 2021 for a portion of the cement lining project. He also said that the town should proceed with the stalled water meter project as the meters were the department’s “cash register.”
There were also questions whether the water district’s proposed expense line for purchasing water from New York City was adequate. It was noted that the agenda included a resolution authorizing an additional 2020 expense of $850,000 to over water purchase costs. Howard Frank noted that none of the Westchester County town who purchase water from the New York City system have ever complained when the City has increased its water rates.
Tony Grasso advised the board to “hold the line,” adding that the board had to distinguish between what was needed and what was wanted. Jay Kopstein said it was a good budget in bad times.
There was a brief discussion about the capital plan pages at the back of the budget book and the need for a closer look at what capital projects were being planned for 2021. The only proposed project identified by Supervisor Slater was the repair to the steps at the police/court complex.
Both former supervisors Gilbert and Siegel advised the board to consider the 2022 budget, and beyond, when adopting the 2021 budget. Mr. Gilbert advised the board not to tie its hands and Ms. Siegel asked the board to consider the tax levy implications for future budgets when the board will be locked into increases in expenditures as a result of contracted salary increases, adding that the town doesn’t control the source of more than 50% of its revenue.
After voting to adjourn the budget hearing, the board went into a closed executive session to discuss personnel issues.