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Letter: Yorktown's 2013 Budget Means Bad News For 2014

Former Yorktown Supervisor Susan Siegel said the 2013 budget will hurt the town's taxes in the long-term.
Former Yorktown Supervisor Susan Siegel said the 2013 budget will hurt the town's taxes in the long-term. Photo Credit: File

YORKTOWN, N.Y. — The Yorktown Daily Voice accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Letters may be emailed to yorktown@dailyvoice.com.

To the Editor,

Some people believe that taxpayers should be kept in the dark about the budget sausage making process. I disagree. I believe taxpayers should understand the process, warts and all. More importantly, I believe taxpayers should know how the 2013 budget will impact their 2014 tax bill.

The good news for 2013 is that when the basic town tax is combined with special district taxes, some taxpayers will see their total town tax bill go down; others will see an increase.  It all depends on which sewer district they’re in.

The bad news is what the 2013 budget means for your 2014 taxes.

There are two ways to hold the line on taxes: cut expenditures or increase revenue. Revenue can be increased either by finding new sources of revenue or simply inflating existing revenue projections.

The 2013 general fund budget includes an additional $1.4 million for increased salaries and benefits – and this expense will increase again next year because of existing labor contracts and likely increases in health benefits and pension payments, two expenses over which the Town has no control -- except to the extent that these costs are determined by the number of employees.

But at a time when other towns are holding the line on creating new positions, not filling vacant positions or, as a last resort, laying off staff in order to hold the line of tax increases, Yorktown’s Preliminary Budget has a net increase in staff -- over and above staff increases already approved this year.

The only significant staff reduction in the 2013 budget is the elimination of one position in the Finance Department and that’s based on the assumption that the current deputy comptroller will be appointed comptroller and that the vacancy created by the resignation of the previous comptroller will not be backfilled.

Instead of looking at how to reduce costs, the 2013 budget inflates revenue projections and uses one-shot revenues, one-shot savings and fund balance to offset increased expenditures. But what happens in 2014 when these revenue sources and savings won’t be available?

The budget also robs Peter, the water, refuse and sewer  districts, to pay Paul, the general fund.

If you plan to be a Yorktown taxpayer in 2014, you may want to attend the Dec. 5 budget hearing. It’s your money the Town Board is spending.

For more information about the budget, visit yorktownbettergovernment.org .

— Susan Siegel Former Yorktown town supervisor and founder of Citizens for a Concerned Yorktown

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