The Examiner

Mount Kisco Trims Tax Increase to 1.4% in $23.2M Village Budget

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Mount Kisco officials are poised to approve a $23.28 million village budget next week for the 2019-20 fiscal year that increases taxes about 1.4 percent but is more than $500,000 below the maximum allowable tax levy.

Over the past few weeks since Village Manager Edward Brancati’s presentation of the tentative budget, there were a series of adjustments that reduced the spending increase in the general fund by about $74,000 to $1,236,564.

Mayor Gina Picinich called the budget, which now carries a 1.39 percent tax rate increase, “a very tight and lean budget.” Before the adjustments, the tax increase was stood at 1.89 percent.

The average homeowner with a property assessed at $400,000 can expect to see a tax increase of $47.66, Brancati said.

With the adjustments made this month, the village is $536,457 below the tax levy ceiling of $15,513,119 for the upcoming fiscal year.

“Not only are we below the 2 percent but we’re leaving some money on the table,” he said.

Spending was trimmed since the village recently hired several new employees to fill existing vacancies at salaries that were below what had been estimated, Brancati said. Furthermore, officials have agreed to transfer less than the originally anticipated amount of money from operations to the capital budget, he said.

Initially, the village, which has typically transferred $440,000 a year to the capital line, had planned on moving over $570,000, Brancati said. The board still wanted to increase the money in the capital line but has decided to transfer $500,000 instead.

In next year’s budget, debt service is slated to increase by about $946,000 as the village takes on new debt related to work that was done to improve the Department of Public Works building and the pending upgrades to Mount Kisco’s three firehouses.

Brancati said in the years ahead, some debt will fall off as payments for past projects are completed. New debt is expected to be replaced as a result of new projects, including improvements for the village’s infrastructure.

“I expect it will climb over the next year or two as we take on the additional debt,” he said.

There have also been lower than anticipated expenses related to the Intermunicipal Agreement with Westchester County for police services for the three full calendar years since the agreement went into effect in June 2015. Savings have ranged from about $588,000 in 2016 to $915,000 in 2017. In 2018, savings reached about $642,000 for police protection.

Last week during the continuation of the public hearing on the budget there were no speakers from the public. Despite the lack of feedback, the board decided against completely closing the hearing. The board ended the opportunity for oral comments but left open the chance for residents to submit written comments through this Thursday, Apr. 25.

Village trustees are expected to approve the 2019-20 spending plan at their next meeting on Monday. The new fiscal year begins on June 1.

Cell Tower Hearing Remains Open

The public hearing on the special use permit for a taller 114-foot cell tower on Mountain Avenue also failed to attract any speakers from the public at the board’s Apr. 15 meeting.

The MTA is looking to build the tower to improve emergency communications in the area. The proposed tower would replace an existing tower that is nearly 30 feet shorter.

Picinich added that the MTA and applicant Crown Castle are looking at different approaches to reduce the tower’s visual impact. Steps being considered include painting the pole and lowering the cell carriers’ equipment on the tower. Those possibilities are being reviewed by the Planning Board.

The Village Board decided to keep the hearing open until it receives the Planning Board’s recommendation.

Sean Browne contributed to this article.

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