Cortlandt Must Stop Borrowing From Savings to Balance Budget

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Let’s be clear, and this is the biggest difference between the town and a school district, school budgets are voted on, town budgets are not.

The Town of Cortlandt does not hold budget sessions open to the public, barring one public hearing. Therefore, the residents do not have a say or give input on how their money is spent, except at election time.

This November will be one of the very few times the Cortlandt supervisor’s position and Town Board have been challenged.

Cortlandt has borrowed money from its savings every year. It is what the town did to not raise taxes. School districts do the same thing; it’s not uncommon. But to say our taxes have not increased is just not true. Of course, they have. I have no beef with the budget; the comptroller does a fine job, except we have to stop borrowing so much from our savings and we need to increase our tax base, which has remained fairly stagnant. 

My big concern, and one that I have been emphasizing, is that the current Town Board approved dozens of raises up to 24 percent. This happened during a COVID year, pretty much undercover. This occurred from the 2020 to the 2021 budget. For example, the supervisor received a $14,956 raise, a 9.8 percent increase; the comptroller received a $24,494 raise, which is a 17.5 percent increase; human resources received a $19,637 raise representing a 24 percent increase; and the receiver of taxes received a $13,543 raise, which is a 12.5 percent increase.

As of June 30, I finished my 12-year tenure as a Hendrick Hudson Board of Education trustee. School district taxes have remained under 1 percent for eight out of the last 10 years. We hold budget meetings open to the public and discuss each section of the budget. We had been discussing the closure of Indian Point for more than three years. We reached out to the community every year to see what they were willing to keep and cut from their children’s education and they voted to not cut anything. They voted YES even though the Hendrick Hudson School District was losing a decreasing $23 million in PILOT payments annually. They voted YES to a 5.9 percent increase two years ago and a 4.5 percent increase last May. Residents had a vote.

School budgets have a community vote, town budgets do not.

Lest we forget that Gov. Cuomo fought to close Indian Point and none of our Democratic state, county or local leaders fought to keep it. We lost jobs, we lost clean energy, we lost a ton of revenue and we lost all the goodies that came with having Indian Point. The support Indian Point and Entergy gave our community was simply immeasurable. Have you checked your kilowatt-hour price these days? And now we rightly have concerns over Holtec and the 15- to 60-year process of dismantling/decommissioning a nuclear power plant. The trucks and traffic, the toxicity, the demolition, the noise, the potential dangers are all very legitimate concerns.

Laurie Abbate Ryan
Candidate for Cortlandt Town Supervisor

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