Written by Victoria Caruso-Davis Thursday, 28 May 2009 07:17
The Incorporated Village of Westbury adopted its 2009-2010 budget last month. The $7,182,025 spending plan is $379,303 less than the current year’s budget of $7,561,326.
The budget contains a tax rate of $16.125 per thousand dollars of assessed value as opposed to the $15.074 rate in 2008-2009 for a 6.97 year-to-year increase. As a result, a typical homeowner (with a home assessed at $7,250) will pay an additional $76.19 in village taxes for an average tax bill of $1,169.06; for 2008-2009, the average village tax bill was $1,092.87.
According to village officials, the budget addresses today’s difficult economic conditions with “a comprehensive evaluation of the budgets for past years, projections of revenue sources for the coming year, a careful review of each and every expenditure line” among other factors.
“The staff and village board worked very hard in these very difficult economic times to craft a budget that is conservative, prudent and reasonable. Like most municipalities, the village is facing significant revenue loss in the coming year due to the economy, lost sales and mortgage tax collections, as well as reduced permit fees and similar items,” said Mayor Peter Cavallaro.
Significant areas of reduction include a 5 percent decrease in overall budgets expenses from 2008-2009, a reduction of elected officials’ salaries (from $12,000 to $8,000 for mayor and from $7,000 to $6,000 for trustee), a 12 percent decrease in solid waste disposal costs, elimination of unfilled positions, reorganization in the village clerk’s office as well as cost reduction and efficiency measures in all departments and the reduction of outside counsel and other budgeted consultant fees.
“We made up for these lost revenues by reducing the salaries of the mayor and trustees, eliminating from the budget a number of unfilled positions, reorganizing and streamlining operations in several departments, looking at expenses line by line to reduce nearly $400,000 from the budget. We also negotiated a new garbage disposal contract that will save Westbury taxpayers over $1 million over the next 10 years,” said Cavallaro, adding that the 2009-10 budget “spends significantly less than the budgets passed in each of the last two years.”
While the 2009-2010 spending plan includes cuts in various areas, the newly-elected mayor said it is important to note that services will not be “materially reduced” and that, in some areas, they are actually being enhanced. Among the areas expected to see a boost in funding is code enforcement.
“We plan on hiring one new full time code enforcement officer as well as increasing the man hours spent during hours that we do not currently have coverage,” said Cavallaro. “This is important because our residents have told us that it is necessary for us to continue to keep ahead of the quality of life issues that impact our neighborhoods, and we agree.”
He concluded, “Overall, despite the fact that the tax increase is a little higher than we would have liked, we believe that under the economic pressures faced by the village, we were able to present a very conservative and appropriate budget. Objectively, we believe that the village continues to be a good value for residents in terms of the services that they receive and the cost of providing those services.”