Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner has released the 2017 proposed budget. Town-wide, including villages and unincorporated Greenburgh, total appropriations are $21.5 million, up $4.2 million from 2016.
Complying with the New York State tax cap, the proposed tax increase is 2.56 percent. Taxpayers that paid $244.30 in 2016 will pay approximately $250.56 in 2017.
In unincorporated Greenburgh the proposed 2017 budget includes total appropriations of $78.5 million, up $4.2 million from 2016. The tax rate increase is 2.52 percent; taxpayers that paid $3,068.95 in 2016 will pay approximately $3,146.31 in 2017.
In a statement with the 2017 proposed budget, Supervisor Feiner explained that Greenburgh residents would continue to receive tax rebates because of the town’s cost-containment success, by keeping within the annual tax cap.
“We had to overcome significant challenges to meet the 2017 tax cap, especially regarding expenses that are beyond our direct control,” Feiner said. “For example, the NY Power Authority recently announced that town government electric rates would increase by 8.8 percent. In addition, we project a 9.1 percent increase in employee medical insurance and 2 percent in worker’s compensation and other insurance. Honoring the cap has and will continue to help us stabilize costs and restrain tax increases.”
The Greenburgh budget proposes meeting 2017 fiscal challenges by limiting increases in certain operating expenses, keeping other expenditures flat year-over-year and by reducing less critical spending. This included reducing departmental budget requests approximately $900,000 by working in close cooperation with department heads.
“We were able to strengthen Town finances while having a benign impact on Greenburgh’s quality of life with a combination of past years’ efficiency enhancements and by holding the line on filling non-essential vacancies,” Feiner explained.
Greenburgh also has maintained its Aaa bond rating with Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. “Our Aaa rating equates to over $131,000 in interest savings for our recently sold debt. We realize these benefits from our Aaa rating each time we renew maturing bonds,” Feiner said. “During my tenure as Town Supervisor, the bond rating of the town has increased several times. The Town has enjoyed a Triple A rating every year since 2008. During this time many other local, county, state and national governments have seen their bond ratings decrease. We are proud that we continue to manage a fiscally prudent government and have maintained the highest rating possible.”
In the proposed budget summary, Feiner explained that the 2017 budget process began by identifying new potential productivity increases, cost reductions and revenue enhancements. “We are implementing new management controls, which will allow better use of our existing resources and improve control over expenditures versus budget. We have kept departmental costs as flat as possible versus 2016,” Feiner said.
The town has settled contracts with its unions, and held salary increases to around 2 percent annually. Attrition has been used to reduce employee costs.
In addition, a LED lighting initiative saved the Town over $200,000 in its first year. And, the single-worker sanitation trucks and other recent initiatives are making the Sanitation Department increasingly efficient each new year.
“Finding and adapting these and other new technologies is now part of the culture in Greenburgh government, which allows ongoing improvements in the effectiveness of our operations,” Feiner said.
Feiner also noted that the stock market had a positive impact on the NYS Employee Retirement System (ERS) in 2016 and the NYS Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS). Declines in the 2017 ERS retirement cost rates were able to partially offset the effects of salary increases. Stock market gains held the 2017 PFRS retirement rates to only a slight increase. Overall, the retirement liability for the town has increased by approximately $500,000 for 2017.
Regarding incremental revenue, the proposed 2017 budget includes $1.5 million for the impending sale of Frank’s Nursery, and $600,000 of revenue has been allotted as revenue for the WESTHELP property.
The budget anticipates $3 million from Regeneron’s expansion.
Pushing for passage of the Greenburgh hotel tax in Albany, Feiner said the new tax would add an estimated $1 million to revenues if Governor Cuomo signs the new legislation. That $1 million, however, has not been included in the proposed budget.
Commenting on the recent reassessment, Feiner said, “We expect the current reassessment project will help stabilize our tax base, enhancing the town’s ability to manage property tax rates and greatly curtailing future certiorari awards. These benefits will become most apparent within the next two to three years.”
Other town initiatives include the adoption of a Comprehensive Plan by the Town Board to manage the growth and development of the Town of Greenburgh, both commercially and residentially.
Sanitation expenses will drop with the addition of new “one-armed bandit” trash collection trucks. The new trucks require only one person for operation, compared with the three per truck system currently in use.
“Over a year ago, we contracted with an independent auditing company to conduct a study of Town Court operations. The Court has implemented many audit recommendations, leading to improved internal controls and efficiencies. In 2016, we conducted a similar review of the Department of Public Works. In 2017, we expect to receive recommendations regarding health and safety initiatives that could save taxpayers money,” Feiner explained.
Feiner also reported that the town would continue to work with the school districts and villages within the town for opportunities to share services
“In summary, the financial health of our Town is solid,” Feiner contends. “Because the future holds many uncertainties beyond our control, we must redouble our efforts to reduce costs, increase revenue and improve our management practices to ensure our continued financial soundness and provision of exemplary services to our citizens.”