The Examiner

Pensions, Lower Property Values Driving 3.5% Mt. Kisco Tax Hike

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Mount Kisco Village Manager James Palmer discussed the proposed 2013-14 budget during a public hearing on April 2.
Mount Kisco Village Manager James Palmer discussed the proposed 2013-14 budget during a public hearing on April 2.

Rising pension costs and lower property values are the key factors behind a proposed 3.5 percent tax rate hike in Mount Kisco’s $20.4 million 2013-14 general fund budget, Village Manager James Palmer said this week.

Palmer has proposed a $393,592 spending increase, a 1.96 percent rise over the current budget.

Property taxes on the average home in the village would rise by nearly $122 under Palmer’s budget plan. Nearly 70 percent of next year’s village revenues are expected to come from property taxes, Palmer said during the April 2 board of trustees meeting.

The tax levy would increase by 2.6 percent in the new fiscal year, which starts June 1. Though the state has a mandated tax cap at 2 percent, Palmer said the proposed budget “is compliant with the tax cap” because the state allows municipalities to have exemptions that do not count against the cap.

Putting pressure on the budget is that the total assessed value of all properties in Mount Kisco has fallen $1.4 million this year, Palmer said. The loss of tax revenue caused by lower property values accounts for a 1 percent increase on the proposed tax levy, he said.

On the plus side, sales tax revenue is expected to rise by about $100,000 next year to $1,375,000 and projected mortgage tax revenue will increase $10,000 to $250,000, the latter figure  “a far cry from where we were several years ago,” Palmer said.

The village’s contribution to employee pensions will be $374,503 higher next year compared to two years ago. Starting with 2010-11, the village’s pension contribution will have skyrocketed by $716,000, Palmer said. Total employee benefits, including pension costs, are proposed to go up 4.4 percent in the new budget.

Various capital projects have been proposed, including an addition to the department of public works building, paving projects and replacing the bulbs in street lamps with energy efficient LED lights. The capital projects would be paid from money set aside over the years rather than by borrowing, Palmer said.

Mayor Michael Cindrich praised Palmer’s work on the budget.

“The village manager has done a great job of getting more done with less money,” Cindrich said.

Former village trustee Peter Grunthal was the only resident who spoke during the public hearing. Grunthal said the village should replace its current fleet with electric vehicles to protect the environment. He owns a hybrid car and an electrical vehicle.

Cindrich told Grunthal that the proposed budget has the village replacing a car currently used for parking enforcement with an electric vehicle and wants the village to buy additional electric vehicles in the future.

Palmer noted the village recently received charging stations, which will be installed near village hall and in municipal parking lots.

Trustee Anthony Markus said in an effort to hold down spending, the village continues to explore sharing of services, including consolidation of police services with Westchester County.

The board voted unanimously to close the public hearing.

Cindrich said he hoped the board would vote to approve the 2013-14 budget on April 15. The deadline for passage is May 1. Before the trustees take a final vote, however, several work sessions will be held to make any adjustments, Cindrich said.



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