2012 BUDGET APPROVED BY THE TOWN BOARD---CAPITAL BUDGET ALSO APPROVED
The Greenburgh Town Board approved the 2012 budget today and also approved the capital budget for 2012. The budget complies with the tax cap which was approved by the New York State Legislature earlier this year. The tax hike that was approved will be 3.3% for residents of unincorporated Greenburgh and 3.5% for residents of the villages. New York State law allows localities to factor in pension contributions to the tax cap calculation. A number of government entities around the state have voted to overturn the tax cap. The Town Board decided to comply.
When the budget was initially proposed in October we anticipated 6 layoffs. The Board reduced the layoffs to two positions. Four employees in the parks department who were slated to lose their jobs will be transferred to vacant positions that we were planning to fill in 2012. We are eliminating other positions by attrition. There will be a night court on Wednesday evenings. The additional night court should result in the collection of significant additional revenue in 2012 --reducing the backlog of uncollected tickets. We decided to ask the part time prosecutor to work full time for the town --so we can aggressively pursue collections of back tickets and dispose of court cases in a timely manner.
Most of the departments within the town made cuts to their budget. Some recreation/community center programs are being eliminated. Cuts have also been made in the library budget. Fees are increasing for town programs. And, we're going to require bagging of leaves in 2012. The town had been receiving $1.2 million a year from the county/WESTHELP in revenue. Westchester County terminated the contract with WESTHELP at the end of September --causing the town to lose the revenue. We are negotiating (but have not yet finalized) a contract with Ferncliff (an organization that provides services to the developmentally disabled). We won't be able to count on the significant revenue until approvals are granted--which could take us into 2013.
We also approved a capital budget. $1.5 million dollars will be spent on road resurfacing in 2012. $69,000 will be spent for license plate readers which will help the police catch people who commit crimes. Our phone system is being replaced --at a cost of $200,000. We're spending $500,000 for a new software system. We have obtained a $169,000 grant for LED lighting installations (energy efficient lighting).
The budget, in its entirety, should be posted on the town website: www.greenburghny.com tomorrow.
Although the budge has been approved all the Board members recognize the fact that we have to work very hard to tighten up --to make government more efficient and leaner. The economy is still bad. If further cuts are not made additional layoffs may have to be made a year from now.
To help keep the pressure on to find additional cost savings measures---I will be meeting with the CSEA leadership twice a month to provide them with updates on financial matters and to hear their suggestions--starting in January. I hope to meet regularly with the Teamsters and PBA. Our employees need to be included in the budget process. We can learn from their suggestions. Members of the Town Board have requested to be part of the budget process year round. A new citizens budget oversight commission will be formed to follow up on the recommendations made earlier this year. The commission will also study options (consolidations, restructuring, privatization,increasing health care contributions of employees)--that could lead to additional savings.
Special thanks to the Town Board, Comptroller, department heads members of the Citizens Budget Oversight Commission, employees and citizens who testified at the budget hearings for your feedback and participation. We need to have a strong partnership in the coming year. The challenge: to turn budget difficulties into an opportunity---reinventing government.