The Greenburgh Town Board approved the 2011 town budget tonight.The budget will be posted on the website in its entirety next week.
Shortly after I submitted the 2011 budget to the Greenburgh Town Board the County Executive of Westchester, Rob Astorino, submitted his county budget to the Board of Legislators. The County Executive decided to close down WESTHELP, a homeless shelter in Greenburgh. The town had been receiving $1.223 million a year from the county in revenue from WESTHELP. The town will lose $305,750 in 2011 and $1.2 million in 2012. In response to this action the town Board decided to take action to offset the loss of revenue.The Town Board also decided not to use any fund balance in the A budget—which the unincorporated residents of Greenburgh and village residents pay into. This is the first time the town has not artificially subsidized town programs in the A budget by using savings.
The town has a AAA bond rating (from S & P and Moody’s). Approximately 3% of all localities in the nation have the highest bond rating. In my tentative budget I had planned to use some fund balance to have a lower tax increasein the A budget. I think the Board made a fiscally prudent decision to use no fund balance in that budget. The average resident, who has a $15,000 assessment will pay $27 a year more because of that decision. The $27 increase per average household could save residents many thousands of dollars because communities that have a AAA bond rating borrow at less expensive rates.
The Board made some other changes to the tentative budget. At the recommendation of a task force, we are going to conduct a reassessment impact study to determine the impact per neighborhood and different populations of a reassessment of town properties. We are working with Assemblyman-elect Tom Abinanti on this issue and may seek changes in NYS law to address hardshipsif reassessment takes place. $20,000 was appropriated –no requests for proposals have been issued – the cost may be less for the study once we reach out to consultants.
The Board rejected a proposal that I had made in my tentative budget to hire a consultant for $50,000 to study and help plan for the creation of an Independent Library District. Independent Library districts are independent of town government. Voters elect library board members and vote on the library budget annually. The Board deleted $150,000 from the library budget. The library will receive $3,204,838 from the town in 2011. We hope to raise private dollars to offset some of the cuts. There will be some fee increases in the parks budget. A civilian EMT will be added to the budget ($38,287) to reduce reliance on having a police officer provide Emergency medical services. We will be able to assign an additional police officer to street patrols—providing enhanced protection to residents.
The average resident of unincorporated Greenburgh ($15,000 assessment) will pay the town $2630.24 in 2011. In 2011 the resident paid $2516.54. the difference: $113.70 more. Village residents: 2011: $215.26 a year. In 2010: $114.75. $100.52 more.
The Town has an AAA bond rating (the highest rating possible). Unlike the state government
and many localities around the nation the Town is in good financial shape. One of the reasons
is we adopted a Town fund balance policy a few years ago to instill fiscal discipline.
I realize that any tax hike - even with a small dollar figure amount attached to it – is
undesirable. We need to look at the big picture and reinvent the way government runs. We
need to find new revenues and more ways to cut expenses. These are some thoughts:
WE NEED TO STOP PAYING $10,000,000 PER YEAR IN CERTIORARI REFUNDS
Over the last several years the town, villages and school districts have paid back over
$10,000,000 per year in certiorari refunds. A new Judge assigned to certiorari cases has
forced all municipalities in Westchester to pay certioraris faster. In the 2011 budget we have
included $5 million in refunds for town alone, not counting schools, the fire districts or county.
In 2010 we anticipate refunding approximately $3.1 million.
Members of the Town Board and I are looking for ways to stabilize the taxes, reduce certioraris
significantly, eliminate big payouts and remove the volatility of the tax rates from year to year.
We are also concerned because the percent of the total tax bill paid by residential property
owners is going up while the percent of the total tax bill paid by the commercial sector is going
down. One option to be considered is reassessment. However, before any decision to
reassess is made, we will be asking the NYS Legislature to approve hardship provisions to
assist struggling families and retirees. We are funding an impact assessment study.
At a recent Town Board work session (October 28) we invited J. Dwight Hadley, CPA to speak
to us. He was the former chair of the New York State Board of Accountancy. He is working
with another upstate community on an innovative concept: the establishment of a sanitation
enterprise fund. This concept, which the Town Board is currently reviewing, would change the
way sanitation services are offered to residents and increase transparency. The Town would
send residents a bill for sanitation services instead of having them pay for it through Town
taxes. Residents/businesses would have the option of comparing the costs of our service with
the private sector. If we offer a better service, individual residents/businesses could choose to
hire the Town to pick up garbage. If you are not satisfied with our price or level of service you
would have the option of contracting with the private sector. The Board is requesting the comptroller to
provide us with an analysis of the actual costs –running the sanitation department.
HOTEL TAX –SIGNIFICANT NEW REVENUE STREAM
During the past two years the New York State Legislature has authorized other municipalities
in Westchester to levy a tax on hotels. This tax is generating significant revenue to those
localities. The Town of Greenburgh is requesting the State Legislature authorize Greenburgh
to do the same. I anticipate that the State Legislature will take action in 2011, which will
increase our revenues for 2012 and beyond. This could generate a six figure annual revenue
FIRE CONSOLIDATION COMMISSION FOLLOW UP REPORT—presentation December 21 9:30 AM
Over a year ago the Town Board appointed a citizens commission to take a look at the costs of
operating the three paid fire districts. These districts are independent of the Town. The Board will hear
the majority and minority reports this Tuesday, December 21st at 9:30 AM. The meeting will be televised
live on public access TV and will be archived on our website: www.greenburghny.com.
INDEPENDENT LIBRARY DISTRICT
In recent years Greenburgh’s Library has been closed on Sunday’s. Other libraries around the
county have also cut their library hours. In response, some communities around the state have
created independent library districts. Library Commissioners are elected and their budgets are
submitted to you the taxpayer annually for a vote. I believe the library should be independent of
the town government. Another approach is to ask all the libraries within
Greenburgh to coordinate their hours.
NO ARBITRATION—NYS law authorizes an arbitration panel to impose police salary increases if the town and PBA cannot
Reach an agreement. Arbitration awards are significantly higher than salary increases that local officials would probably approve. I
Believe that NYS law should be changed to eliminate arbitration panels. I believe that elected officials should have the power to
set salaries for employees.
PENSIONS SHOULD BE BASED ON BASE PAY, NOT OVERTIME—To cut overtime and pension abuses around the state, I believe that
The NYS Legislature should base pensions on base pay, not overtime. Will be lobbying the NYS Legislature to approve this recommendation.
.STRAIGHT PAY, NOT DOUBLE TIME OR TIME AND A HALF---A very good suggestion was made at the budget hearing. Employees who work
Overtime should receive straight pay, not time and a half or double time. The Greenville Fire department has been doing this with many of their
Fire fighters. I would like to see this expand. Could cut overtime costs significantly. Think other levels of government: county, state, local governments should follow this example.
BUDGET MESSAGE - 2011 BUDGET-------excerpts
B BUDGET: $68.9 million in 2011 - Average unincorporated Greenburgh resident will pay
$113.70 more in 2011 (combined A & B taxes)---this reflects changes made tonight
A BUDGET: $15.7 million in 2011 - Average village resident will pay $100.52 more in 2011—this reflects changes made tonight
HOLDING BACK EXPENSES, ADDRESSING REVENUE LOSSES
The 2011 budget, like budgets in recent years, reflects our mission to control the costs of
government. A chart is attached to this budget message comparing the 2011 operating budget
spending per department to 2010 department spending. Some departments will spend less in
2011 than in 2010. This has to be done to offset large increases in employee fringe benefits
over which we have less direct control.
The challenges we as a community face with the B Budget include certioraris, lower assessed
values, pension increases, health care hikes and higher insurance costs. WE ANTICIPATE
ISSUING $5 MILLION IN REFUNDS due to certioraris in 2011. Our pension costs have gone
up by 36% for the Employee Retirement System (ERS) and 24% for the Police and Fire
Retirement System (PFRS). (The Town has no control over these percentages.) This equates
to a pension cost increase of $1.0 million. In addition, health care costs increased by 15%,
which equates to an increase of $1.4 million. Assessed valuations decreased by $9.2 million
which negatively impacts the tax rate.
There would be no tax hike in my proposed B Budget were it not for certioraris.
During my tenure as Town Supervisor we have significantly increased services, including
services to the villages. We now provide advance life support and paramedic services by
trained police to village residents. This program has saved many lives. Greenburgh is the only
town in the state to offer its residents this advance life support service by the police.
We also expanded a service and made it available to village residents -special recreation for
those with disabilities. I am proud that we have given children with special needs the
opportunity to enjoy their quality of life and thank the villages for requesting this program.
At the end of this message I have included a listing of services currently offered to village
residents by the Town. I think the taxpayers get great value from these services.
When the economy was good we were receiving a lot of revenue from the mortgage tax. As a
result, we were able to increase services without increasing taxes. We used fund balance (our
savings) to pay for these programs -without asking residents to absorb the actual cost for each
of these the programs. In fact, a few years ago we had enough fund balance that we actually
reduced taxes in the A Budget by 12% in 2006, 10% in 2007 and 32% in 2008.
Unfortunately, the economy is bad. We can no longer use large amounts of fund balance and
do not have the mortgage tax revenue that we once had. Also, assessed valuations are down
$13.9 million compared with 2010.
At the bottom of this budget message I have provided readers with a chart showing to which
jurisdiction a typical taxpayer pays their taxes. A taxpayer in the Village of Ardsley, for example,
will pay the Town $188.54, village government $3,575.70, the county $1,968.44 and the school
district $7,685. Many think their Town tax is much higher than the $188.54 example because
the Town acts as a tax collection agent for the schools, county and fire districts even though
the Town has no control over their budgets.
TOWN SERVICES TO THE VILLAGES
In response to residents of the villages who have asked about town services, I have compiled
the following list of services that we currently offer residents of the villages. I believe that these
services are worth the additional $73.79 in taxes for 2011 for a typical resident with a $15,000
1. We offer Advance Life Support (ALS) and paramedic services which has a proven
record of repeatedly saving the lives of village residents. Hopefully, you won't need
them, but if you do these services are ready to respond to your call 24 hours a day.
2. The town-wide senior program serves or delivers over 30,000 meals to village seniors
each year. The program provides a hot meal five days a week to eligible seniors. We
have three nutrition sites - in Dobbs Ferry, Tarrytown and unincorporated
Greenburgh. Our home delivery program provides delivery services to seniors who
cannot come to one of these sites.
3. The Town has a recreation program for residents who have developmental disabilities.
4. The Town’s animal control department responds to calls for service within the
villages. If there is a stray or injured animal the animal control unit will respond. We
transport the animals to an appropriate medical facility for care.
5. The Town's civil defense unit provides civil defense services during natural disasters
and other major events, such as post 9/11 and during blackouts. These services include
coordination of communications for police, fire, paramedics and refilling of air packs and
fresh air for specialized rescues. The unit also responds to refill the air tanks of village
volunteer firefighters during fires.
6. The Town's highly trained and specially equipped special weapons and tactics (SWAT)
team is available 24/7 to respond to emergencies. Officers from throughout the town
who meet very rigorous standards are readily available to respond to emergencies in
7. The Town's road striping unit is responsible for striping roads, including the center and
side lines and crosswalks on roads in all six villages.
8. The Town acts as a collection agent for the schools and county. The Town guarantees
100% of the taxes to both entities.
9. A few weeks ago, at the request of the villages, the Town took over the responsibilities
of dog licensing.
Sample Breakdown of Where Your Local Taxes Go
TOWN WIDE BUDGET AT A GLANCE INCREASE PERCENTAGE
APPROPRIATIONS 2011 2010 (DECREASE) CHANGE
Town Board $116,378 $114,178 $2,200 1.93%
Town Justices $1,333,180 $1,287,661 $45,519 3.54%
Supervisor $196,108 $194,858 $1,250 0.64%
Comptroller $716,750 $715,580 $1,170 0.16%
Auditor $79,569 $77,250 $2,319 3.00%
Tax Collection $243,503 $244,303 ($800) -0.33%
Purchasing $170,863 $170,363 $500 0.29%
Assessor $711,207 $712,613 ($1,406) -0.20%
Town Clerk $303,725 $319,702 ($15,977) -5.00%
Town Attorney $1,078,900 $1,053,656 $25,244 2.40%
Town Engineer $45,921 $45,921 $0 0.00%
Elections $180,280 $175,243 $5,037 2.87%
Public Works Administration $480,016 $473,062 $6,954 1.47%
Central Services $775,724 $815,840 ($40,116) -4.92%
Central Data Processing $507,545 $515,578 ($8,033) -1.56%
Unallocated Insurance $176,400 $168,000 $8,400 5.00%
Municipal Association Dues $4,000 $4,000 $0 0.00%
Judgment & Claims $300,000 $250,000 $50,000 20.00%
Taxes $42,000 $41,000 $1,000 2.44%
Special Items $8,000 $8,000 $0 0.00%
Contingent Account $664,000 $500,000 $164,000 32.80%
TOTAL GENERAL GOV'T SUPPORT $8,134,069 $7,886,808 $247,261 3.14%
Police & Constables $12,099 $13,342 ($1,243) -9.32%
Police & Constables - Marine Unit $0 $7,145 ($7,145) -100.00%
Police & Constables - SWAT $159,934 $161,277 ($1,343) -0.83%
Traffic Control $422,185 $423,556 ($1,371) -0.32%
Hartsdale Public Parking $76,000 $74,000 $2,000 2.70%
Control of Animals $321,412 $314,868 $6,544 2.08%
Civil Defense $21,821 $24,861 ($3,040) -12.23%
Other Public Safety $0 $14,000 ($14,000) -100.00%
Narcotic Guidance Council $20,000 $20,000 $0 0.00%
Advanced Life Support $914,456 $892,708 $21,748 2.44%
TOTAL PUBLIC SAFETY $1,947,907 $1,945,757 $2,150 0.11%
MAINTENANCE OF BRIDGES $5,000 $4,500 $500 11.11%
Nutrition Program - Transfer $275,706 $240,585 $35,121 14.60%
Veterans Service $600 $600 $0 0.00%
TOTAL ECON. ASST. &
OPPORTUNITY$276,306 $241,185 $35,121 14.56%
Council on Arts (1) $0 $53,330 ($53,330) -100.00%
Recreation Administration $210,912 $217,764 ($6,852) -3.15%
Rec - Park Maintenance $0 $0 $0 0.00%
Day Care Center $103,220 $100,657 $2,563 2.55%
Historian $4,934 $4,934 $0 0.00%
TOTAL CULTURE & RECREATION $319,066 $376,685 ($57,619) -15.30%
EMPLOYEE BENEFITS $3,037,201 $2,784,525 $252,676 9.07%
INTERFUND TRANSFERS $450,000 $375,000 $75,000 20.00%
DEBT SERVICE $1,525,403 $1,436,310 $89,093 6.20%
TOTAL APPROPRIATIONS $15,694,952 $15,050,770 $644,182 4.28%
(1) Council on Arts was moved from the A Fund to the B Fund and went from 53,330 to 52,402, a 1.74% decrease
TOWN OUTSIDE BUDGET INCREASE PERCENTAGE
APPROPRIATIONS 2011 2010 (DECREASE) CHANGE
Town Clerk $27,585 $27,835 ($250) -0.90%
Cable TV $206,954 $120,968 $85,986 71.08%
Public Works Administration $416,481 $393,810 $22,671 5.76%
Central Services $313,500 $328,000 ($14,500) -4.42%
Unallocated Insurance $551,250 $525,000 $26,250 5.00%
Judgment & Claims $5,000,000 $2,800,000 $2,200,000 78.57%
Taxes $111,060 $116,000 ($4,940) -4.26%
Special Items $26,500 $25,000 $1,500 6.00%
Contingent Account $1,070,000 $1,375,000 ($305,000) -22.18%
TOTAL GENERAL GOV'T SUPPORT $7,723,330 $5,711,613 $2,011,717 35.22%
Police and Constables $16,734,986 $15,802,920 $932,066 5.90%
Police-Housing Authority $0 $0 $0 0.00%
Building Department $930,522 $915,445 $15,077 1.65%
TOTAL PUBLIC SAFETY $17,665,508 $16,718,365 $947,143 5.67%
Registrar of Vital Statistics $2,700 $2,700 $0 0.00%
Environment Quality Control $0 $0 $0 0.00%
Narcotics Guidance Council $33,674 $33,674 $0 0.00%
TOTAL HEALTH $36,374 $36,374 $0 0.00%
Highway Garage $75,000 $89,700 ($14,700) -16.39%
Street Lighting $742,866 $693,492 $49,374 7.12%
TOTAL TRANSPORTATION $817,866 $783,192 $34,674 4.43%
Council on Arts (1) $52,402 $0 ($52,402) 100.0%
Recreation Administration $1,536,831 $1,614,592 ($77,761) -4.82%
Senior Transportation $2,600 $2,600 $0 0.00%
Parks Maintenance $1,630,215 $1,664,479 ($34,264) -2.06%
Anthony F. Veteran Park $468,000 $466,233 $1,767 0.38%
Nature Center $365,096 $359,290 $5,806 1.62%
Community Center $2,699,929 $2,823,984 ($124,055) -4.39%
Fairview Greenburgh Pool $613,300 $654,746 ($41,446) -6.33%
TOTAL CULTURE & RECREATION $7,368,373 $7,585,924 ($217,551) -2.87%
Zoning & Planning $480,730 $374,824 $105,906 28.25%
Sanitation $4,794,732 $4,717,594 $77,138 1.64%
Rent Subsidy $55,000 $55,000 $0 0.00%
Conservation $28,093 $28,183 ($90) -0.32%
Other Community Services-Grants $120,051 $121,051 ($1,000) -0.83%
TOTAL HOME & COMM. SERVICES $5,478,606 $5,296,652 $181,954 3.44%
EMPLOYEE BENEFITS $14,018,481 $12,608,507 $1,409,974 11.18%
Library Fund $3,354,838 $2,992,740 $362,098 12.10%
Insurance Fund $425,000 $350,000 $75,000 21.43%
Highway Fund $5,100,115 $5,891,969 ($791,854) -13.44%
TOTAL INTERNAL TRANSFERS $8,879,953 $9,234,709 ($354,756) -3.84%
DEBT SERVICE $6,919,079 $6,367,991 $551,088 8.65%
TOTAL APPROPRIATIONS $68,907,570 $64,343,327 $4,564,243 7.09%
(1) Council on Arts was moved from the A Fund to the B Fund and went from 53,330 to 52,402, a 1.74% decrease
THIS IS STEP ONE
The presentation of this proposed budget is step one. To offset the revenue declines and
expense increases we have made many painstakingly considered choices. There are
reductions in controllable expenses. The Town is continuing its practice of not filling positions
as employees leave and we are offering an Early Retirement Incentive.
In the coming weeks the Town Council and I will be meeting with neighborhoods, civic
associations and community leaders. We have until December 20 to approve a final budget.
I want to thank the other members of the Town Board for working in partnership with me on the
proposed budget. We have been meeting week after week reviewing line items in every
department budget. I also thank Bart Talamini, Town Comptroller, for his hard work and
dedication in the preparation of this budget. During this period of fiscal austerity it is a
challenge to do more with less. This budget provides the fiscal framework for meeting that
Paul J. Feiner
Greenburgh Town Supervisor
P.S. The entire Town budget will be posted shortly on the Town’s web