One of the hallmarks of Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi’s 30-year administration has been the town’s financial record, but Cortlandt Republican Committee Chairman Daniel Pagano is charging the picture isn’t as rosy as painted.
Pagano, an attorney who took out a two-page ad in this week’s newspaper to illustrate his contentions, claims the town has been running deficits nine of the last 10 years, resulting in withdrawals from its reserve account to balance the budgets.
“Our elected officials have intentionally misled the public regarding the financial condition of the town,” contended Pagano while announcing the Republican slate of candidates will also be running on an independent line called Cortlandt United.
“Rising taxes and decreasing net financial position of Town of Cortlandt is evident and NOT transparent by the current administration,” Pagano said.
However, Town Comptroller Patricia Robcke countered Pagano’s criticism, stressing his claims don’t add up as evidenced by a recent Moody’s credit upgrade that noted, “The rating also reflect the town’s robust and growing tax base.”
In response to Pagano’s deficits remarks, Robcke explained the budget document in general does not show “running deficits.”
“The annual budget projects what the town anticipates receiving in revenues and spending in the year ahead. It projects current year expenses and revenues and the past two years’ actual data. The financial statements show increases and decreases in fund balances on a fund level,” she stated.
As far as Pagano’s claims that the town’s fund balances have decreased by $8.6 million for the last 10 years, Robcke said that was false, maintaining Cortlandt maintained a stable fund balance, with increases in years 2013, 2016, 2018 and 2019.
She explained the change in fund balance is due to capital fund expenditures. “Bond anticipation notes were secured for these capital projects in 2020. Capital fund balance will be replenished when the town bonds for these projects in the future,” Robcke stated.
Meanwhile, in addressing Pagano’s claims that town taxes have gone up 25 percent the last several years, Robcke said a financial report available on the town’s website clearly shows “a continually increasing tax base and rate increases over the past 10 years to be 14% in total or only 1.4% annually on average.”
Puglisi also made reference to the town’s financial standing in a statement she posted on the town’s website last week.
“On average only a 1% town tax increase, low town debt, met the New York State tax cap every year, filled vacant positions, purchased new vehicles and equipment and at the same time more than tripled our fund balance (the town’s saving account) over the years, and will continue this fiscal responsibility for this budget, as well,” Puglisi stated. “So, I am pleased to tell you I leave the town in excellent financial shape when I retire at the end of December 2021.”