After Yorktown homeowners voiced their concerns over the 2013 budget and its long-term effects during a nearly four-hour public hearing Wednesday night, town board members closed the public hearing.
Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace said board members will vote on the final budget during their Dec. 18 meeting. They must adopt the budget by Dec. 20.
During the public hearing, a handful of residents asked questions about the spending and revenue of the town on several lines in the approximately $52 million budget proposal.
While most residents were concerned about the financial state of the town in the upcoming years, several comments drew criticism of items in the 2013 budget – such as cell phones for maintenance staff, emergency response jackets for town board members, costs of water, meeting expenses and police vehicles.
Yorktown resident Ed Ciffone, president of the United Taxpayers of Yorktown, questioned why board members wanted to purchase jackets. Yorktown Councilman Dave Paganelli said there was a discussion to purchase emergency jackets so board members could be easily identified by residents during an emergency, such as the recent super-storm Sandy. Paganelli said there was nothing in the preliminary budget for emergency jacket purchases.
(Check out a clip of that discussion attached to this article.)
The 2013 preliminary budget calls for a 4.17-percent increase in the general fund because of the town settling the back-logged Police Benevolent Association (PBA) and the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) contracts, Grace said.
Despite the hike in the basic rate, most Yorktown homeowners will see their 2013 property tax rate go down, not up, Grace said during a review of the tentative budget last month.
However, there are 28 different taxing districts within the town of Yorktown with its own budget and tax rate. Residents' total town tax bill depends on what districts they live in. (Click here for a copy of the preliminary budget).
To offset the 4.17 percent increase, the town has dipped into the fund balance, got a one-time savings of about $800,000 by switching garbage haulers last month, which will cut every household’s refuse-collection bill by 13.4 percent, and used $750,000 to lower the water district fund balance.
Grace said the changes in the budget are due both to one-time savings with the garbage contract and savings in the water district as well as one-time expenses such as salary increase for town employees and members of the police department.
"Sometimes you get one-shot revenues, and sometimes you get one-shot expenditures," Grace said.
Yet he said board members are mindful of the budget for 2014.
"We expect to see the same savings in the water district and we won't have the pressure of settling contracts," he said. "I think we are in good shape for 2014."
The entire video of public hearing, held on Dec. 5, will be posted on the town's website.