YORKTOWN, N.Y. – A four-hour line-by-line dissection of the $52 million preliminary budget ended late Wednesday night with the Yorktown Town Board taking no action on the fiscal plan.
While residents appreciated the overall decrease from current spending, they hammered home concerns about the long-term stability of the budget , saying it relies too heavily on “one-shot” savings and revenues in the Refuse District and Planning Department .
Supervisor Michael Grace said sharp changes in the budget go both ways, and the town also had to deal with “one-shot expenditures” in the form of salary increases for the Police Department and town employees.
Grace said the general fund's 4.17 percent increase was abnormally high in 2013 because of town settlements with the Police Benevolent Association and the Civil Service Employees Association. He believes the town will be in good shape heading into 2014 because the settlements are no longer back-logged.
“Sometimes you get one-shot revenues, and sometimes you get one-shot expenditures,” Grace said. “We’re very mindful of 2014.”
To offset the 4.17 percent “Town Tax” line increase on residents’ bills, the board dipped into its surplus fund balance and reduced the budget of its water and refuse districts, which are covered by the state's 2 percent cap on tax increases.
Yorktown has 28 different taxing districts or funds, and each has its own budget and tax rate. A resident’s total town tax bill depends on how many districts he or she lives in.
Residents living in the water and sewer districts will see an average tax decrease of $62.94, or 3.26 percent, according to the town. Residents without sewer or water will see an average decrease of $1.05, or 0.21 percent.
Much of Wednesday’s public hearing was dominated by criticism of small line items such as cell phones for maintenance staff and emergency response jackets for Town Board members. The board initially wanted the jackets so they could be easily identified in a crisis, like Hurricane Sandy, but eventually decided against them.
Highway Superintendent Eric DiBartolo frequently came to the defense of board members and said they should be allowed to buy things for themselves without being criticized. DiBartolo said he would also support a raise for council members, who earn $18,085 as full-time, 30-hour employees.
“It’s very easy to stand up here and take shots,” DiBartolo said. “You have no idea what they do.”
The board closed the public hearing, but will not vote on the budget until Dec. 18. Members did not indicate what, if any, changes will be made in the wake of Wednesday night’s comments.
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