The Northern Westchester Examiner

Slight Tax Increase Proposed in 2017 Peekskill Budget

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City taxes would rise less than one percent next year in Peekskill under the tentative budget submitted to the Common Council by Acting City Manager Richard Leins.

If the $37,975,500 budget remains intact after deliberations by the council, the average single-family homeowner assessed at $8,000 would pay $14 more in city taxes in 2017.

“The 2017 tentative budget is intended to maintain and improve upon the city’s financial position to prepare for the challenges ahead,” Leins stated in his September 30 budget proposal to the council. “While it is a basic budget, with no frills, the city will continue to provide those important municipal services residents and businesses require and expect, while investigating every opportunity for innovation, creative solutions to challenging problems, and cost savings where possible to deliver essential services at the least cost to the taxpayer.”

Spending in the tentative budget is up $701,500 from this year’s adopted budget. The Tax Assessment Roll used to calculate 2017 taxes will rise by $204,195 and mortgage taxes paid to city are anticipated to increase by $25,000 next year to $350,000, which is still a far cry from Peekskill’s historic high of $1.4 million received in 2005.

Leins mentioned several increases in mandated expenses the city has to deal with next year, namely health insurance for active and retired employees, Workers Compensation and New York State retirement costs. For the second year in a row, Leins pointed out Peekskill would not be participating in the State Comptroller’s optional Deferred Pension Payment Plan. The amount deferred by the city for 2012 through 2015 is $4,360,000, down from $5,131,000. However, the city is required to pay $440,000 next year.

Meanwhile, Leins reported the 2017 tentative budget includes the use of $50,000 of Committed Funds-Designated for Tax Stabilization, leaving a balance of $423,975, and $150,000 of Restricted Funds-Reserved for Firehouse to pay debt service associated with that project, leaving a projected balance on hand of $3,980,000.

On the positive side, Leins said Peekskill was recently notified that the New York State Comptroller’s Office has significantly improved Peekskill’s Financial Stress Monitoring Score.

Mayor Frank Catalina, who noted he has been working on his own budget with City Comptroller Ann Scaglione since the summer and is considering presenting it to the council, said he is pleased with Leins’ work with the city’s finances “but I think we can do better.”

“The city manager is doing a fine job. He is reaping the benefits of our hard work on budgetary items and pushing along the new development projects I have ushered into the city,” Catalina said. “I just think another year or two of biting the bullet will really turn things around in a dramatic way, increase our bond rating and strengthen the city.”

Deputy Mayor Drew Claxton said the budget looks “very promising” but would reserve final comment until it is discussed thoroughly by the council.

“We have done a lot of work to keep expenses flat and with the improvement in the economy, and a very attentive city work force, revenues are up,” Claxton said. “We’re optimistic about the future and want to thank the staff for all their hard work.”


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