Stewardship of Cortlandt’s Budget Has Left Town in Difficult Straits

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I am going to stick to the facts and not the personal partisan politics of Ms. Slippen, in her attempt to fool and deceive the town residents last week. The strange thing is that she does not confront the issues I raised.

The Town of Cortlandt budget has been unbalanced and running deficits for the last decade. The fund balance is down close to $9 million.

Cortlandt’s fiscal position has taken a sharp turn for the worse, starting in 2011. The town’s budgets have had deficits in nine of the last 10 years. As a result, the town has had to rely upon borrowing for annual expenditures, while the salaries of the elected officials have increased significantly.

See the chart below. Town of Cortlandt Fiscal Report 2020: Changes in Fund Balances of Government Funds

The Cortlandt Budget:

2011 Deficit: $2,018,259

2012 Deficit: $142,522

2013 Surplus: $578,238

2014 Deficit: $3,111,498

2015 Deficit: $1,312,140

2016 Deficit: $1,400,297

2017 Deficit: $1,091,078

2018 Deficit: $542,559

2019 Deficit: $1,161,966

2020 Deficit: $8,494,672

Town spending over revenue is $18,696,753 over the last 10 years.

The town borrowed $9,803,823 to pay recurring expenses during this time. That is not sustainable and costly. Imagine you spend more than you earn and keep putting the expense on your credit card.

At the same time, Cortlandt’s fund balance has been decreasing from $19,513,216 to $10,836,270. So, the Town of Cortlandt has used savings and borrowed to avoid balancing the town budget.

The Town of Cortlandt borrowed:

2016: $3,231,705

2018: $647,817

2019: $2,513,959

2020: $3,410,342

This borrowing to avoid either raising taxes or cutting spending is not sustainable. The problem is now the bill is larger and the town fund balance is reduced to half.

The current administration wants to bond further to replenish the fund balance. Will the interest on the bonds be less than the interest on savings?

Ms. Slippen does not respond to these budget facts. She just denies them, says Puglisi is popular and says to ignore them. She provides propaganda without any reference to facts. So, all she is offering is propaganda rather than any truth.

I presented financial facts from the Town of Cortlandt’s own fiscal report. This is the current condition of the town’s budget; rather than deal with the truth or the present, Ms. Slippen looks back 30 years to argue irrelevant nonsense. She must look back 30 years for good news? Ms. Slippen ignores the present and the future and that is what matters today, not 30 years ago.

The last 10 years town taxes for the general fund have gone up 26.5 percent and the highway fund has gone up 14.5 percent. Town taxes alone in 2014 went up 11 percent in one year. The Town of Cortlandt has raised taxes nine of the last 10 years.

They kept the taxes lower by either borrowing or spending the town savings. That is not a solution for a 10-year decline.

Ms. Slippen’s claims that the town has NEVER had a budget deficit at any point in recent memory and a growing fund balance is not truthful. The facts provided herein demonstrate the untruthful nature of her claims.

She points to an improving town bond as significant. This indicates the town can keep borrowing but the trend in town finances will eventually put its bond rating at risk.

Finally, Ms. Slippen refers to a recent award from New York State. This award was for the quality of the fiscal report that I reference in this response, not for the fiscal planning by the Town of Cortlandt.

Councilman Becker and Creighton have been on the Town Board for years and they have not been able to fix this financial problem. It is time for a change.

We need to address the problem now and not kick the can down the road with borrowing, spending fund balances and leaving the problem for the next person. The current situation is only more expensive and difficult.

I, therefore, urge you to vote for the Cortlandt United Team. They do not believe in partisanship but civic service and transparency. Hiding problems does not solve them.

Early voting starts on Oct. 23 and Election Day is Nov. 2.

Vote Row C, Cortlandt United, for Laurie Ryan for supervisor, Tom Walsh and Warren Smith for councilman, Peter Marengo tax receiver and Kylie Bernard for town clerk.

Supervisor Puglisi is retiring, and I wish her well and thank her for her service to the community.

Daniel Pagano, Esq.

Cortlandt Manor

Daniel Pagano is chairman of the Cortlandt Republican Committee.

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