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Yorktown Supervisor Siegel's November Newsletter

The following is a monthly newsletter written by Yorktown Supervisor Susan Siegel. To submit your own letter to the editor, email JSwift@TheDailyYorktown.com.

SUPERVISOR’S NEWSLETTER – NOVEMBER, 2011

2012 BUDGET

On Monday, October 31, I submitted the Supervisor’s Tentative Budget for 2012. Despite sharp increases in employee benefits, pension costs, and trash collection, I was able to keep the tax levy below the 2% tax levy cap passed by the NY State Legislature. This was possible because of ongoing, diligent cost cutting measures. Not counting pension and health care increases (costs we have little control over), Town spending has actually decreased. Combined with reductions in our workforce, primarily through attrition (three retirements and one resignation) and one proposed layoff in my budget, as well as collecting many years’ worth of unpaid back taxes and penalties, my Tentative Budget came in below the tax levy cap without any significant loss of services.

But the Tentative Budget was only the first step in the budgetary process. On November 10 and 11, the Town Board met with each department head, and then on November 15, in a 3 to 2 vote, it adopted a Preliminary Budget that included several changes to the Tentative Budget that had the effect of increasing expenditures by $290,000 while keeping the tax levy and tax rate increase unchanged. A copy of the Preliminary Budget is available on the Town website (www.yorktownny.org) for public viewing and some bound hard copies are also available by request at Town Hall.

The Town Board’s additions included:

  • $65,000 in salary and benefits in order to keep the receptionist position that I had eliminated in my Tentative Budget because there was no need for a receptionist in any Town department.
  • $200,000 for the purchase of a new truck for the Highway Department.
  • $25,000 for the drainage line item in the Highway Department

The Preliminary Budget also included a $25,000 expenditure for a business tax incentive, but as the funds for this addition came from reducing another expenditure line there was no net increase in expenditures. The Town Board also eliminated the $2,000 expenditure I had proposed to televise Town Board work sessions.

The next step in the budget process will be a public hearing scheduled for Wednesday, December 7 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, at which time Yorktown residents can speak up and have input into the process before the Town Board votes to pass the budget by the December 20 deadline.

I was disappointed that the Board voted to add $290,000 in expenditures to my Tentative Budget, and to unrealistically inflate projected income as well as to raid the Fund Balance yet again in order to avoid going over the tax levy cap or raising the tax rate. I believe it is irresponsible for the Board to repeatedly deplete the Fund Balance (the Town’s emergency fund) to pay for salaries and operating expenses in order to “artificially” control tax increases.  I also find it unconscionable to spend $65,000 of taxpayer money to fund a position that is no longer needed. Like it or not, and until the economy improves, layoffs are a reality that all fiscally responsible elected officials and taxpayers must face.

I urge all residents to take a look at the Preliminary Budget and to ask questions and/or request the Board to make adjustments before they vote to adopt the 2012 Budget as it currently stands.

ACCESSORY STRUCTURES ZONING CHANGES AND MORATORIUM

On November 15 the Town Board voted to amend sections of the Zoning Code relating to accessory structures. The need for the changes became apparent in the wake of a NY State Appellate Court decision that declared the previous Code deficient. The new provisions apply only to lots in one acre or smaller zones and basically limit the size of accessory structures to no more than 80% of the footprint of the primary structure on the property.

The amendments also eliminate the need for property owners to get building permits to erect sheds that are no bigger than 10’ x 10’

The moratorium on issuing building permits for accessory structures that was in effect while the Town Board considered the new amendments has been lifted so homeowners can now proceed with their home improvement plans.

AUTOMATED EMERGENCY NOTIFICATION SYSTEM

The Town recently installed a new Automated Emergency Notification system to notify residents in the event of an emergency, whether it is town-wide or specific to their neighborhood. Sometimes referred to as “reverse 911”, the new targeted system makes it possible for the Town to contact residents via home phone, cell phone, text or e-mail in any order or combination requested. The system can also accommodate TDD/TTY systems for the hearing impaired. To ensure you are included in the database, please click on the DeltAlert icon on the Town’s website (www.yorktownny.org) and follow the instructions to register, or call 866-749-9663 or 962-5722 x271.

TOWN HALL BOARDROOM RENOVATIONS

Spectators at Board meetings at Town Hall, and residents watching meetings at home will notice some upgrades – specifically new lighting, audio and camera systems to broadcast the meetings. These improvements, which include a new control room enclosure at the back of the room, have been on the drawing board for several years and have finally been realized. The $100,000 project was funded entirely with monies from a special PEG Fee that Cablevision and Verizon FIOS are required to pay the Town as part of their contract.

While in the process of transitioning from our old VHS tape technology to the new HD digital equipment we have experienced a few kinks with our broadcasts. However, once the switch-over is completed, not only will the quality increase dramatically but so will our capability to provide additional programming on the government channels (Channel 20 for Cablevision and Channel 33 for FIOS).

VOLUNTEER BOARD OPENINGS

If you have a special interest or a particular expertise, coupled with the desire to contribute to the betterment of your town, we have a number of positions open on our volunteer advisory committees that you might consider. We are currently looking for new members for the following:

Advisory Board on Architectural and Community appearance (ABACA)

Advisory Committee on Open Space (ACOS)

Conservation Board

Ethics Board (vacancy as of 12/31)

Landmark Preservation Commission

Library Board of Trustees

Tree Conservation Advisory Commission (TCAC)

If you have an interest in serving on any of the above, please contact the Supervisor’s office at 962-5722, ext 201, or supervisor@yorktownny.org.

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