After several hours of spirited discussion, the Yorktown Town Board approved a preliminary 2004 budget last week that includes a 1.75% town tax hike.
Board members debated proposed increases in special improvement districts, the highway superintendent’s salary and the utilization of undesignated fund balance as outlined by Supervisor Michael Grace in his tentative spending plan last month.
Councilman Nick Bianco expressed concern with projections from the town comptroller that a proposed tax hike of 1.28% next year would suddenly spike to 9.17% in 2015 with Grace’s plan of using $1.2 million from the town’s savings account to balance the budget.
“I’m more concerned about 2015 than 2014. Next year you might get more fund balance but no one has a crystal ball,” Bianco remarked. “It’s an irresponsible budget. Reckoning day is going to come.”
With many residents struggling to make ends meet, Grace explained he was committed to delivering a zero tax increase in 2014 and mentioned several one-time expenditures would be off the books in 2015.
“We’re in good shape,” Grace said. “I get a call once a week from someone who is on the ball of their feet. They’re dying out there. I don’t want a tax increase. I don’t think it’s the time to do it.”
Ultimately, the board agreed to utilize $800,000 from undesignated fund balance and $225,000 from the library fund next year. Depending on what services and districts homeowners utilize, some property owners may see a slight tax decrease. A public hearing on the budget will be held Tuesday, December 10 at Town Hall.
In other action, the board agreed to fund one full-time, undercover officer to enable the Police Department to restart its Narcotics Unit next year. Meanwhile, newly elected Highway Superintendent will be paid an annual salary of $107,000 after Grace proposed a salary of $95,000.
Current Highway Superintendent Eric DiBartolo earns $125,000, which includes a $21,000 stipend for being director of labor operations, a position that no longer exists. DiBartolo had recommended Paganelli be paid $89,000 since he has no previous highway experience.
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