YORKTOWN, N.Y. — The Yorktown Daily Voice accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Letters may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org .
To the Editor,
Why should you care about the town’s 2013 budget?
Obviously, the first reason is that you want to know how much it will cost you in taxes next year.
But once you know what that number is, there are other reasons why you should care about how the town plans to spend $50 million of taxpayer money.
Town taxes account for only 11 percent to 15 percent your total property tax bill depending on whether you have public sewers and public water — but those taxes pay for a host of services that protect the health and safety of your family and provide you with amenities that enrich your qualify of life and enhance the value of your property.
On Oct. 30 (subject to storm events), Supervisor Michael Grace was to will release his tentative budget for next year. The budget is a road map to the town services you can expect in the coming year: Will the current level of services be maintained? Will any services be eliminated? New services added? Will fees remain unchanged, increased or decreased?
Take a look at the supervisor’s budget (try online at the town’s website ) and see what he is proposing for the services that are important to you and your family.
1. Garbage Collection (Refuse Fund)
The town’s garbage contract for 2013 will be $800,000 less than this year’s cost. Will the entire savings be passed on to homeowners? Does the budget include any contingency plan in the event the new startup carter isn’t able to fulfill the terms of his contract?
2. Highway/Paving (Highway Fund, line item D5112)
How much money will the budget include for paving beyond what the town anticipates receiving from the state in CHIPS money? How long has it been since your street was paved? What’s the likelihood that there’ll be money in the 2013 budget to pave it?
3. Highway/Drainage (Highway Fund, line item D5110)
How much money will the budget include for drainage improvements? Is there a list of proposed 2013 projects? What are the chances that improvement projects on your street will get done in 2013?
4. Highway/Snow removal (Highway Fund, line item D5142)
This is always guesswork, but the bottom line is that the town spends whatever it takes to make the roads safe. Using historic figures, the budget can be underestimated (some might say manipulated) in order to reduce taxes with the full knowledge that all necessary additional funds will be transferred into the snow removal line whenever needed.
5. Police Department (General Fund, line item 3120)
As a result of a collective bargaining contract signed this year, the 2013 budget will reflect a cumulative 8.35 percent increase in police salaries. Will this increased cost affect staffing levels? Will there be any changes in response time to emergency calls? Will officers be assigned to deal with the speeding problem on neighborhood streets?
6. Parks & Recreation (General Fund, multiple line items)
So many of the town’s recreational facilities are in need of repair. Which, if any, improvement projects will be funded? The tennis courts? Route 202 ballfields? Hunterbrook field improvements? Will pool hours be shortened in order to reduce costs? Will camp or pool fees be increased?
7. Library (Library Fund)
Will there be any cuts in the library budget? Will the library be able to maintain its current hours and budget for purchasing new books, magazines and audio visual materials?
8. Bulk Trash Pickups (Refuse Fund, line item 7210)
Will there be any changes in the number of pickups?
9.Senior Services (General Fund, line item 7620)
Will there be any increase in town subsidies to the senior clubs? How many buses will be available for trips? Will town funds be spent to upgrade the YCCC bathrooms?
10. Capital projects
Is the supervisor proposing borrowing for any capital projects? If so, what projects and at what cost? Are the supervisor’s priorities your priorities?
If, after reading through the Supervisor’s Tentative Budget, you have some questions, comments or concerns, don’t wait until the Dec. 5 formal budget hearing to speak up. By then, it’s usually too late to make major changes in the budget. The sooner you make your comments known to the other members of the Town Board, the better chance you’ll have that they will, at a minimum, consider your comments.
The members of the Town Board will be reviewing the supervisor’s budget Nov. 8 and 9. This is the critical time when changes to the tentative budget are made. The meetings are during the day and, although they are open to the public, the public cannot comment during the meetings. But you’ll learn a lot about your town and your elected officials just by listening and watching
It’s your tax dollars that Town Board members are spending. Wouldn’t you like to know how they’re spending your money?
— Susan Siegel
Former Yorktown town supervisor and founder of Citizens for a Concerned Yorktown
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