Written by Peter I. Cavallaro, Westbury Village Mayor Friday, 27 April 2012 00:00
In addition, this budget represents the third budget in the last four village budgets in which overall expenses are lower year-over-year. With this budget, the average village residential property owner will pay only $966 for all village services in the coming year. It is important for residents to note that, as a result of fluctuating property values, reflected in the village’s 2012 assessment roll update, individual properties may experience small fluctuations (upward or downward) in the actual taxes that they pay, even though the overall tax revenue collected by the village for the coming year will be the same as last year. In fact, since the completion of our revaluation program in 2009, the village has experienced an overall 9.6 percent reduction in the aggregate assessed valuation of all properties in the village.
The budget process was complicated this year by state-mandated cost increases, the newly imposed 2 percent state tax levy cap and the continuing national, state and regional economic downturn. These and other factors continue to present serious challenges to all municipal governments, including Westbury. Accordingly, our 2012-2013 budget is the result of an evaluation of each and every village department and service and critical scrutiny of each and every expenditure line in the budget.
Among the most significant adverse factors affecting the 2012-2013 budget were continued revenue loss due to depressed sales tax, mortgage tax and other revenue streams resulting from the poor economy; state-mandated increase by $35,355 (9.2 percent) over last year’s budget in village contributions to the NYS retirement system; 3.2 percent increase in the cost of employee medical coverage over last year; 2.75 percent increase in contractual union wages under our current collective bargaining agreement. We remain grateful to our dedicated village employees and staff for continuing to do an outstanding job under difficult economic conditions.
The foregoing adverse impacts to our budget were offset by holding the line on discretionary spending (the 2012-2013 budget reflects a modest $4,174 reduction in budgeted expenses from last year, and a significant 3.5 percent ($259,551) annual decrease in expenses from our 2008-2009 budget). In three out of the last four budgets, our overall budgeted expenses are lower than the previous year. We also are maintaining a hiring freeze and through attrition have decreased the number of budgeted positions by 1.5 positions from last year (which is 5.5 full-time positions less than in 2008-2009). We have realized significant reductions in our annual expenditure to settle tax certiorari proceedings (in fiscal 2011-2012, the amount paid in these settlements was only $66,839, compared to a high of $239,245 in 2010-2011). We are also budgeting increased revenue from fines and penalties for repeat housing and other code violations.
While we know that future years will bring a need to raise our tax revenue, I and the board believe that this year, in which economic hardships continue, is not the year to do so, and our 2012-2013 budget reflects our commitment to being as fiscally conservative and prudent with our taxpayers’ tax dollars as we can.