North Castle residents are likely to see virtually no change in their town tax bill next year as the recently released $32.5 million tentative budget for 2022 is more than $1.1 million under the tax cap.
Despite dealing with the pandemic, factoring in a new police union contract, increased building and recreation costs and a $2.4 million increase in highway expenses as officials plan to complete an aggressive road paving program next year, the tax rate is proposed to drop .04 percent.
The homeowner with a house at the median market value of about $930,000 would see a $1 decrease in next year’s tax bill.
Supervisor Michael Schiliro said he was pleased that department heads did an outstanding job in adhering to the current year’s budget and that North Castle is well-positioned heading into 2022.
“It gives us the ability, like in this budget year, to pull down some money from fund balance and it gives us flexibility as well,” Schiliro said.
He credited Town Administrator Kevin Hay and Director of Finance Abbas Sura for keeping the board abreast of rapid changes during the pandemic and for updating projections to help guide the town through a turbulent period.
The town’s unassigned and restricted fund balance has grown from nearly $5.3 million to just under $12.6 million at the close of last year.
The town’s unassigned and restricted fund balances have grown from nearly $5.3 million in 2015 to just under $12.6 million at the close of last year.
As a result, the town plans to use about $1.15 million of fund balance in 2022 for the general fund, $2 million for the Highway Department and $250,000 for the library budget.
Along with strong management, robust revenues in key lines have also played an important role. The town is budgeting $2.8 million for sales tax revenue for next year, a $600,000 increase over 2021, and about a $350,000 increase over money actually received in 2020.
Last year, North Castle received more than $1.1 million for mortgage tax, exceeding projections by more than $300,000. For 2022, $900,000 has been budgeted.
Money to be raised by taxes next year will be $24,303,597, which leaves the town $1,110,865 under the allowable limit.
Councilwoman Barbara DiGiacinto said Schiliro also deserves his share of the credit.
“The supervisor is the reason why we have a zero budget, because he is very, very frugal, he has an incredible finance background and when he sits down, I’m sure, with Kevin and Abbas to discuss the budget going forward, I’m sure it was made clear that we want to continue doing more with less, but we also don’t want to compromise the quality of life here in North Castle and the services the residents expect,” she said.
Public hearings on the budget have been scheduled for the meetings of Nov. 17 and Dec. 8.
New Castle Budget
New Castle’s proposed $45.1 million tentative budget for 2022 will see a tax levy increase of 3.03 percent, much of that a result of an eye-popping 19.4 percent increase in the levy for refuse expenses.
In Town Administrator Jill Shapiro’s budget message, she stated that of the $672,000 increase in the levy from 2021, the refuse costs were responsible for more than two-thirds of that expense ($481,600). As currently proposed, New Castle is $202,000 under the cap.
The average homeowner is expected to see a town tax increase of $110.36, which includes all special districts except for fire protection.
Town Comptroller Robert Deary said officials anticipated a sizeable jump in the refuse line but the recycling market has changed rapidly in recent years. As a result, rather than receiving rebates, New Castle is now paying to have their recyclables removed.
“We knew it was going to be a significant increase,” Deary said. “To be that high, we did not.”
Each residential parcel owner will see their refuse rates rise by $86 next year, from $440 to $526, he said.
The overall refuse fund budget rose dramatically by about $974,000.
The good news is that the town will be cutting its use of fund balance in half, from $1.2 million which helped the town make it through pandemic-related revenue shortages, to $600,000 in 2022. Deary said that is expected to offset the debt service for some of the capital projects.
Conservative projections forecast a fund balance of about 26 percent of budget by the end of 2023, Deary said. In recent years, the town used fund balance to help offset costs from the downtown Chappaqua streetscape project.
Deary said the town next year will be adding a full-time Highway Department laborer, a position that had not been filled, and two part-time workers. One of the part-timers will be in the Building Department to help with the increased activity and the other in the Department of Public Works.
Mount Pleasant Budget
Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi said details of the town’s tentative 2022 budget could be available this week after the Town Board’s scheduled Wednesday night work session.
Fulgenzi, who initially indicated that he was striving for a zero percent tax increase, said COVID-19 hit the town hard financially.
“We’re still crunching some numbers but at the very least I would hope to be below the cap,” he said.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/