I have filed my proposed 2017 budget with the Town Clerk. The budget, as proposed in its entirety, should be on line (www.greenburghny.com) later today. The Town Board will schedule public hearings later in November and December and will approve or modify the proposed budget by December 20th. This is my proposed budget.
2017 TOWN OF GREENBURGH PROPOSED BUDGET SUMMARY
Complies with tax NYS cap. Taxpayers to receive partial property tax refund checks from New York State (given to taxpayers who live in communities that comply)
TOWN WIDE: (Villages and Unincorporated Greenburgh)
2017 Tax Rate Increase: 2.56%
Total Appropriations: $21.5 million; up $4.2 million from 2016
A taxpayer that paid $244.30 in 2016 will pay approximately $250.56 in 2017
TOWN OUTSIDE: (Unincorporated Greenburgh Only)
Tax Rate Increase: 2.52% (A Fund and B Fund combined)
Total Appropriations: $78.5 million; up $4.2 million from 2016
A taxpayer that paid $3,068.95 in 2016 will pay approximately $3,146.31 in 2017
Note: Over 80% of your property taxes go to your school district, fire department and Westchester County. For residents of the Villages, about 98% of your property taxes go to entities other than the town. Most of your municipal services are provided by the village.
Honorable Town Board Members:
I am pleased to propose a budget that will continue our perfect record in complying with the New York State Tax Cap. This demonstrates our continuing commitment to keep Greenburgh a great and affordable place to live.
GREENBURGH TAX PAYERS WILL RECEIVE EXTRA STATE REFUND
New York State rewards our taxpayers with additional tax rebates based on Greenburgh’s cost-containment success. There are other government entities within Westchester and New York State that have overruled the tax cap over the years. The Greenburgh Town Board has never overruled the tax cap since its inception.
We had to overcome significant challenges to meet the 2017 tax cap, especially regarding expenses that are beyond our direct control. For example, the NY Power Authority recently announced that Town Government electric rates would increase by 8.8%. In addition, we project a 9.1% increase in employee medical insurance and 2% in worker’s compensation and other insurance. Honoring the cap has and will continue to help us stabilize costs and restrain tax increases.
We will meet 2017 fiscal challenges by limiting increases in certain operating expenses, keeping other expenditures flat year-over-year and by reducing less critical spending. This included reducing departmental budget requests approximately $900,000 by working in close cooperation with department heads. We were able to strengthen Town finances while having a benign impact on Greenburgh’s quality of life with a combination of past years’ efficiency enhancements and by holding the line on filling non-essential vacancies.
I am doubly proud that we have been able to maintain our Aaa bond rating (the highest rating possible by Moody's and Standard & Poor's) while continuing to provide the high quality services our residents have come to expect. Only 1% of all localities in the nation have achieved this highest level of financial confidence. Our Aaa rating equates to over $131,000 in interest savings for our recently sold debt. We realize these benefits from our Aaa rating each time we renew maturing bonds.
During my tenure as Town Supervisor, the bond rating of the town has increased several times. The Town has enjoyed a Triple A rating every year since 2008. During this time many other local, county, state and national governments have seen their bond ratings decrease. We are proud that we continue to manage a fiscally prudent government and have maintained the highest rating possible.
I ask once again for your help in preserving our Town’s fiscal strength and keeping Greenburgh a great place to live.
2017 GREENBURGH BUDGET AND OPERATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS
How We Did It
We began the 2017 budget process by identifying new potential productivity increases, cost reductions and revenue enhancements that will us to improve our financial strength, while maintaining our high service levels for the community. 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 2016.
For example, we have settled contracts with our unions, and held salary increases to around 2% annually. We will also continue to utilize attrition to reduce employee costs. In addition, the LED lighting initiative is saving the Town over $200,000 in its first year alone. The single-worker sanitation trucks and other recent initiatives are making the Sanitation Department increasingly efficient each new year. Finding and adapting these and other new technologies is now part of the culture in Greenburgh government, which allows ongoing improvements in the effectiveness of our operations.
The stock market had a positive impact on the NYS Employee Retirement System (ERS) in 2016 and the NYS Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS). Declines in the 2017 ERS retirement cost rates were able to partially offset the effects of salary increases. Stock market gains held the 2017 PFRS retirement rates to only a slight increase. Overall, the retirement liability for the town has increased by approximately $500,000 for 2017.
- Frank’s Nursery: The 2017 Budget includes $1.5 million for the sale of Frank's Nursery. We anticipate the closing to take place in early 2017.
- WESTHELP: The 2017 Budget includes $600,000 for the WESTHELP property, which will be converted into 54 senior citizen apartments.
-REGENERON: The budget anticipates $3.0 million from Regeneron's expansion.
- Hotel Tax: This will add an estimated $1.0 million to revenues if Governor Cuomo signs the new legislation. It is not included in my proposed budget.
We expect the current reassessment project will help stabilize our tax base, enhancing The Town’s ability to manage property tax rates and greatly curtailing future certiorari awards. These benefits will become most apparent within the next two to three years.
Other Town Initiatives
• The Town Board has adopted a Comprehensive Plan to manage the growth and development of the Town of Greenburgh, both commercially and residentially. Among our goals is to help attract and keep businesses in the town, thereby improving our tax base.
• Sanitation expenses will drop as we add new “one-armed bandit” trash collection trucks. The new trucks require only one person to operate it compared with the three per truck currently in use. Another benefit is reduced injuries and compensation cases because the new trucks are safer to operate because they empty trashcans using a remotely operated external arm.
• The Water District is addressing infrastructure needs and developing a long term strategic plan.
• Over a year ago, we contracted with an independent auditing company to conduct a study of Town Court operations. The Court has implemented many audit recommendations, leading to improved internal controls and efficiencies. In 2016, we conducted a similar review of the Department of Public Works. In 2017, we expect to receive recommendations regarding health and safety initiatives that could save taxpayers money.
• We will continue to work with the school districts and villages within the town for opportunities to share services and save taxpayer dollars. For example, the Village of Hastings recently announced that they would be adopting our assessment rolls - which will save Hastings residents money and reduce duplication.
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 assisting the Town prepare the budget and maintain our Aaa bond rating. In addition, a thank you to the Town Board members for working hard in overseeing the operations of the town. A final thank you to our citizen volunteers of the town who continue to work very hard helping us make your town government responsive and efficient.