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Letter: Why I Voted No On The Yorktown 2016 Budget

Susan Siegel
Susan Siegel Photo Credit: yorktownny.org

YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- The Yorktown Daily Voice accepts signed and original letters to the editor up to 350 words. To submit your letter, e-mail yorktown@dailyvoice.com .

To the editor:

Sometimes, voting "No" is the right thing to do.

On Dec. 8, I voted no on the resolution to adopt the 2016 preliminary budget.

Here are some of my reasons:

  • Overall expenses are increasing faster than non-property tax revenues. The town is living beyond its means. Instead of reducing expenses, it is using its fund balance, to cover deficit operating budgets.
  • Instead of reducing the expenses, the 2016 budget ADDS four full-time positions. The cost of these four new positions will become permanent increases in future budgets. (Since 2012, nine additional staff positions have been added to the budget. )
  • The expense for two major budget line items, medical benefits and insurance premiums, were based on estimates dating to October. As the budget didn’t have to be adopted until Dec. 20, I suggested the board wait to adopt the budget until these costs were firmed up.
  • With an estimated $5 million available in the fund balance to cover “unanticipated” expenses, I didn’t think a $100,000 expense for “contingences” was needed.
  • The budget includes an estimated 2 percent salary increase for town employees — even though there are no contract agreements with the town’s two unions for 2016.
Why let the other side know what you’re ready to give them even before negotiations start? When the budget hearing was closed, Supervisor Grace asked if I wanted to make any changes to the budget. I replied, “No.”

I said no because after spending two days in November reviewing the budget with my fellow board members, I knew Councilmen Bernard and Diana were satisfied with the supervisor’s budget and were not interested in making any changes.

So, I told the supervisor it didn’t make sense to waste the board’s time making motions for changes when I knew they would be defeated, 3-2.

It’s time Yorktown’s elected officials stopped kicking the proverbial can down the road.

Councilwoman Susan Siegel

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