- Category: Resources
- Last Updated on Thursday, 25 April 2013 14:14
|2012 Bond Issue Schedule (2012-2032)|
A Message to the Community Regarding the Supervisor's
Tentative 2013 Budget
Susanne Donnelly, Town Supervisor
October 29th, 2012
The Supervisor’s Tentative 2013 Budget has been a work in progress for the past three months. Every Town department is working much harder with less people and resources. We have been tweaking and adjusting the 2012 budget since January to ensure that we can achieve its goals- while there have been challenges, there have also been several major successes. Revenues in the Building Department have helped us as the Sales Tax revenue will fall short of projections in the budget for the unincorporated taxpayers. Additionally, in 2012, the Dale Cemetery became self sustaining in terms of their expenses, a trend that will continue for many years, due to an increase in bulk sales. It should also be noted that Dale Cemetery has over 2,000 plots available for local families when the need is there. As the Town takes over maintenance of Sparta Cemetery, we will budget those monies out of the funds generated by Dale Cemetery.
The years ahead promise to be very challenging times for municipal governments as we face many of the same issues that our residents are experiencing from the economic downturn. In Westchester County, towns are responsible for collecting school and county taxes, and making the school districts and County “whole.” Regardless of whether taxpayers have paid their school or Westchester County taxes, the Town of Ossining pays the entire amount owed by our taxpayers to the Ossining and Briarcliff school districts, and to Westchester County. The Town then becomes the priority lien holder on the property, and ultimately receives the amount owed plus late fees. However, this process still requires the Town to lay out large sums of money in the interim.
Through grant monies from New York State, the Town (along with the Village) has embarked on a study to evaluate options for potential governmental restructuring with the Center for Governmental Research, our consultants out of Rochester, New York. After almost a year of interviews, data analysis, and public comment, the consultants have concluded that the Town and Village of Ossining have shown exemplary cooperation in terms of shared services, and we will continue to work together proactively to reduce redundancies and cost to the taxpayers. We will continue to work with the residents and employees in 2013 concerning any changes to staffing and consolidation of services. We have enacted, and pledge to continue with, our “Open Door” policy, which includes keeping residents informed through regular updates, forums and case studies.
While we re-evaluate our staffing levels each time an employee retires or moves on to another position, we have hired four people in 2012 to continue to meet the needs of our residents. We hired a new laborer for the Highway Department, a new Town Assessor, promoted our part-time Paralegal to a vacated Assistant Court Clerk position, and hired a replacement part timer for that paralegal position. As true believers that reform and responsibility start at the top, we have been working with two people, as opposed to the prior three, in the Supervisor’s Office and will continue that practice in 2013. This administration is committed to hiring only when necessary in order to ensure we are making the most of our resources.
To that point, our tax increase for 2013 is well within the New York State 2% tax levy cap, with the average Town taxpayer (assessment of $23,054) paying an additional $11.50. In the Unincorporated area, the tax rate will be 101.49557 per $1,000 assessed value, or for the average assessment of $20,672 an additional $43.60. It is crucial to understand the size of the budget as a whole when examining tax rate increases. The Town’s budget is roughly $13 million in total. Therefore, every small increase in actual dollars accounts for a disproportionately larger “percentage increase” than it would on a larger budget. When examining the tax increase, it is important to note that the dollar value associated with the increase in tax rates is as follows:
General Fund: $28,250= 1% TOV/Highway: $48,500= 1%
As far as where those increases are going, they are largely costs out of the control of a local administration. We have realized, in the Town’s case, increased mandatory contributions to the NYS Retirement System by 13.97% this year. The health insurance plan for our employees, the New York State Empire Plan, is predicting an 8% increase in premium cost. And then, an issue that you all are facing in your own homes, the increased cost of fuel has forced us to allocate resources differently than in prior years. Additionally, non-tax revenues are projected to realize a decrease in 2013. However, we have worked diligently to alleviate some of these impacts. We have worked on cutting expenses wherever possible, including auctions of unused Town property, following a system of centralized purchasing for supplies, and forgoing non-crucial services in our buildings. Most importantly, our Unions are making unprecedented contributions towards the cost of their health care, and we have asked our managers to follow suit. These changes alone have saved significant money for the taxpayers in the 2013 budget.
Like every municipality in Westchester County, we have seen a town-wide -1.29% decrease of Taxable Assessed Values Town-wide, and -1.50% in the Unincorporated area of the Town, as a result of tax certiorari and small claims (household) assessment reductions. These alone, without one dime of additional spending, have an unfavorable impact on the tax rate.
However, despite all of these cost increases and a declining assessment roll, this administration is proud to have held down expenses and remained within the NYS Tax Cap. This is due to the hard work and careful resource management of every Town of Ossining employee. As taxpayers and neighbors, we are fortunate to have such a dedicated group of public servants working for our benefit.
The Supervisor’s Tentative 2013 Budget is available in the Town Clerk’s office at 16 Croton Avenue, the Ossining Public Library.
The Town Board will be holding its regular Town Hall Meeting on November 8th (Thursday, due to Election Day on Tuesday the 6th). Please join us at 7:30PM at the Ossining Public Library (use the downstairs entrance), where we will gathering Board & public input on the 2013 Tentative Budget. Your opinions matter to us- we are working for you, the taxpayers, to create a sensible and sound budget, while keeping costs low and maintaining or even improving service levels.
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