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wide and Town outside budget. Among the reasons: the State Legislature approved the County government's request to increase the sales tax. The Town anticipates receiving approximately $3.2 million for 2019-2020, approximately $1 million of which will be realized as revenue for 2019.
TAXPAYERS WILL RECEIVE A PROPERTY TAX REFUND CHECK FROM THE STATE BECAUSE GREENBURGH IS IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE TAX CAP
*Please be advised over 80% of your property taxes go to your school district, fire department and Westchester County. For Village residents, about 98% of your property taxes go to entities other than the Town.
The proposed Capital Budget for 2020 will be released by the 2nd week in November. I will be urging the Board to approve the capital budget, once finalized, by the end of December. This will provide the Town with the ability to address roadwork and infrastructure earlier in the year.
2020 TOWN OF GREENBURGH PROPOSED BUDGET SUMMARY
TOWN WIDE: (Villages and Unincorporated Greenburgh)
2020 Tax Rate ZERO INCREASE
Total Appropriations: $34.3 million;
A taxpayer that paid $236.74 in 2019 will pay approximately $236.74 in 2020
TOWN OUTSIDE: (Unincorporated Greenburgh Only)
Tax Rate Increase ZERO INCREASE
Total Appropriations: $ 88.3 million;
A taxpayer that paid $ 3,166.07 in 2019 will pay approximately $ 3,166.07 in 2020
We will meet 2020 fiscal challenges by continuing to look for ways to make government more efficient. The Town Board and I will be meeting with all the department heads and as we have done in the past will look for additional ways to give taxpayers the maximum value for their dollar.
I am very proud that we have again achieved an Aaa bond rating this year (the highest rating possible by Moody's and Standard & Poor's). During my administration the bond rating has gone up three times. Over 97% of all communities in the United States don’t have this rating, Other local, county, state and national governments have their their bond ratings decrease. Our AAA rating equates to approximately $100,000 in interest savings for our recently sold debt. It also saves us money each time we renew maturing bonds.
I ask once again for the Town Board's help in preserving our Town’s fiscal strength and keeping Greenburgh a great place to live.
2020 GREENBURGH BUDGET AND OPERATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS
The 2020 budget is almost an as is budget—very similar to last year’s budget. We are continuing to identify new potential productivity increases, cost reductions and revenue enhancements that will enable us to improve our financial strength, while maintaining our high service levels. We are implementing new management controls, which will allow better use of our existing resources and improve control over expenditures versus budget. We have kept departmental costs as flat as possible versus 2019.
Contracts for all three unions are being negotiated. I am optimistic that we will be able to settle the contracts in the near future. Switching to LED has permanently reduced our electrical lighting expenditures. The single-worker sanitation trucks and other recent initiatives are making the Sanitation Department increasingly efficient each year. We have six fewer employees since the start of the one arm bandit initiative. We have expanded recycling from one day every other week to weekly. We anticipate starting curbside recycling of food scraps (thanks to a state grant of $250,000) sometime in late 2020 or early 2021.
As a result of engaging expert consultants to examine our operations, we are implementing a work order system to enable us to better track work being done by our Department of Public Works, and a health and safety program for employees. We are also looking for ways to increase competition when we go out to bid and have formed a citizens panel that will assist us in maximizing competition during the bidding process.
MINIMUM WAGE INCREASES—The parks department and Theodore Young Community Center have many part time Town employees. The 2020 budget includes $150,000 in additional funds to comply with the minimum wage increases approved by the NYS Legislature and signed into law by the Governor.
NEW DISCOVERY UNIT—A NYS UNFUNDED MANDATE THAT WILL COST YOU MORE
In order to maintain compliance with the New York State Legislature's sweeping Criminal Justice Reform, our Police Department needs to create a “Discovery Unit”. This unit will be tasked with compiling and sorting all arrest related information; including paperwork, evidence, and video. Such evidence has to be turned over to the District Attorney’s office, as well as the Defense, within 15 days. In order for the Police Department to act in accordance with the NYS mandates—which go into effect January 1, 2020, as well as provide thousands of man-hours annually to uphold compliance with those mandates; the creation of two additional positions in the form of one sworn officer and one civilian employee is necessary. The court has requested the hiring of a part time attorney to help comply with this new legislation.
SPEED REDUCTION INITIATIVES
Many residents have expressed concern about speeding around Town. I have included in the proposed budget $50,000 for speed reduction initiatives which could include permanent digital speeding signs, and speed humps.
SPECIAL PROJECTS THE COMMISSIONER OF PLANNING INCLUDED IN THE BUDGET ARE THE FOLLOWING:
• $59,280 for Tree Inventory Grant (100% reimbursed), funds to be used for inventory of Town trees in right-of-way areas. We want to make sure that Greenburgh stays green!
• $42,990 for Route 119 Project Completion, 100% reimbursable.
• $75,000 for the Odell House Winterizing (shoring design and construction - 50% reimbursable if NYS grant received)
• $25,000 for Town-wide Tree Planting Initiative which will be an annual expense. This is an exciting new initiative. We want to keep Greenburgh green and want to replace some of the trees that no longer are located within the town.
ADD TRAFFIC SAFETY MITIGATION
Many residents have asked the town to address speeding on their streets. I am including in the proposed budget $50,000 for initiatives to help reduce speeding. Among the initiatives: speed humps and permanent digital speed boards that will advise motorists that they are speeding. Another exciting initiative will be highlighted within the next few weeks when I release the 2020 capital budget: upgrade to existing traffic signals at the Hartsdale train station and will include signaling up to Columbia Ave. Once suggestion this should facilitate the flow of traffic and ease congestion.
COURT HOUSE/POLICE HQ WE WILL HAVE SET ASIDE $12.5 MILLION DOLLARS TO REDUCE BORROWING COSTS AND ENABLE TOWN TO IMPLEMENT NEEDED IMPROVEMENTS AND TO STAY UNDER THE NYS TAX CAP
Anyone who works at or visits the Greenburgh Police Headquarters and Court House recognizes that both facilities are experiencing major infrastructure problems. At the same time taxpayers are concerned that a new court/police HQ could impact taxes significantly. One action step we’re taking: setting aside money now so we won’t have to borrow as much when we finalize the plans. We have saved $12.5 million to reduce borrowing costs (which will enable Town to comply with tax cap)
Another initiative that will take place: We will sell our existing buildings; place the properties on the tax rolls. The 2019 budget included $7 million from our fund balance that will be used for this purchase. I have added $5.5 million in the 2020 budget to this necessary initiative which will enable us (when we take action) to build a new court house/police station and to comply with the tax cap at the same time. Earlier this fall, we contracted with a nationally recognized firm to provide the Town with land use options and to advise us how much we can expect to receive from the sale of our existing buildings. Nothing has been finalized as of yet and there will be community meetings and significant input from residents before we make any final decisions.
REDUCING BORROWING COSTS BY INCLUDING SOME FUNDS IN OPERATING BUDGET
Approximately $.4 million in the Town Entire and $2.9 million have been appropriated to pay for capital purchases rather than financing through the sale of municipal bonds.
The stock market continues to have a positive impact on the NYS Employee Retirement System (ERS) in 2019 and the NYS Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS). Overall, the retirement liability for the Town has decreased by approximately $100,000 for 2019.
• We are budgeting $1.2 million in building permit income due multiple upcoming projects that are being discussed with the Commissioner of Planning and the Building Inspector. In the past, we over anticipated permit revenue and would prefer to be conservative in the revenue estimates. I want to be fiscally conservative.
• We will continue to work with the school districts and Villages within the Town for opportunities to share services and save taxpayer dollars.
In summary, the financial health of our Town is solid. Because the future holds many uncertainties beyond our control, we must redouble our efforts to reduce costs, increase revenue and improve our management practices to ensure our continued financial soundness and provision of exemplary services to our citizens.
Note: A special thank you to Roberta Romano, Comptroller of the Town, for her efforts in preparing the budget and helping maintain our AAA bond rating. Also, a big thank you to the Town Board members who work so hard in overseeing our operations and are essential to our continued fiscal strength. Lastly, thanks to our employees and citizen volunteers who continue to work hard helping us make our Town efficient and responsive.