Written by Victoria Caruso-Davis Friday, 30 April 2010 00:00
The Incorporated Village of Westbury’s Board of Trustee adopted its budget for fiscal year 2010-2011 on April 15. The $7,164,177 spending plan is $17,848 less than the current year’s budget.
The 2010-2011 budget contains a residential tax rate of $.00252, representing a 4.8 percent year-to-year increase. As a result, a typical Westbury Village homeowner with an average assessment of $382,318 will pay $963 in 2010-2011 for all village government services, which is an additional $46 more than last year (or $3.84 more per month); the average commercial property owner will pay an additional $202 in 2010-2011 or $16.84 more per month) for all village services.
According to Mayor Peter Cavallaro, the 2010-2011 spending plan reflects, for the first time, a separate tax rate of $.00500 applicable to commercial properties, which represents the 4.8 percent increase year-to-year, due to the completion of the village’s Revaluation Program.
“In 2009, the village successfully completed its Revaluation Program of all properties in the village,” he said. “As a result, this year and beyond, our residential property owners will collectively pay, on average, less of a proportional share of all village property taxes collected.” Through the revaluation, added the mayor, many village residents will see property tax relief in 2010 as well as the years to come.
Despite the tax increase, Cavallaro said that Westbury Village’s tax rate is still the lowest residential tax rate among comparable villages such as Mineola, New Hyde Park, Williston Park, East Rockaway, Farmingdale, East Hills, Island Park and Great Neck (according to 2009-2010 adopted budgets and tax rates).
Cavallaro told The Westbury Times that the 2010-2011 budget is the result of a comprehensive review and evaluation of each and every village department and service, as well as of all staffing and management levels. Also taken into consideration were past village budgets, operating and capital plans and projections of revenue sources for the coming year.
“The comprehensive budget review process included scrutiny and analysis of each and every expenditure line in the budget, as well as many other factors,” he said, adding that the spending plan reflects the current and continued tumultuous financial and economic conditions facing all governments, businesses and individuals.
“The ongoing nationwide economic crisis has been recognized as the most difficult economic environment in the United States since the Great Depression,” he said. “The dire condition of New York State’s budget and economy has also been well documented. These fundamental economic and budgetary issues present very serious challenges for all municipal governments, including the Village of Westbury.”
A projected overall decrease in anticipated revenue from mortgage tax, sales tax, state aid to municipalities and other receipts as well as the state mandated establishment of $35,000 reserve account pursuant to GASB 45, a new government accounting requirement, for future retiree pension and employee benefit obligations were among the most significant adverse factors affecting the 2010-2011 budget as were a state-mandated increase of $121,677 (61 percent) in village contributions to the New York State retirement system for current and past employees; a $105,702 (13.6 percent) increase in debt service related to capital improvements made in previous years; and a 3 percent increase in employee wages in accordance with the village’s current collective bargaining union contract.
Additionally, a projected loss of $39,000 (100 percent) of sales tax revenue share from Nassau County and a projected required expenditure of $250,000 to satisfy pending tax certiorari challenges were also key considerations in adopting the spending plan; Cavallaro is optimistic, however, that the Revaluation Program will drastically reduce the village’s tax certiorari payment obligations in future budgets.
“I and the board have taken important steps in this budget to offset the negative impacts and factors,” he said.
The board of trustees, said Cavallaro, has for the second year in a row, cut expenses and appropriated to spend less than in the year before. “In fact, the 2010-2011 budget reflects a 5.25 percent reduction ($397,077) in overall budgeted expenses from the 2008-2009 budget, thus creating a much lower expense base than the village had two years ago,” said the mayor. “As a result, village’s taxpayers will realize almost $400,000 in savings each and every year.”
Additionally, Cavallaro said Westbury Village has identified and implemented cost reductions, efficiency measures and workflow modifications in all departments; reduced personnel wages by $115,027 as a result of attrition and consolidation of functions; and continues the hiring freeze implemented last year. In the approved budget, three full-time and three part-time positions were eliminated, without any adverse impact on services.
“We would like to take this opportunity to let our residents know that during the ongoing economic difficulties, our dedicated village employees and staff have been ‘doing more with less’ while continuing to do an outstanding job,” said Cavallaro.
At the same time, Cavallaro said the village remains committed to providing increased funding in the building department for code enforcement to maintain quality of life. “We project an increase in revenue from code enforcement fines and penalties, mostly from increased prosecutions of illegal rentals and zoning violations,” said the mayor.
Overall, Cavallaro said village officials want residents to be assured that all “responsible, concrete and significant steps were taken to reduce expenses, eliminate inefficient processes, consolidate services, reorient work flow and assignments and reorganize functions to deliver services in the most cost-effective and efficient manner possible before looking to increase the tax rate.”
Said the mayor, “We believe that the 2010-2011 budget is a fair, reasonable, conservative and prudent fiscal plan for the village for the coming year, given the continuing economic difficulties in the nation, state and county. We continue to actively work to provide village services in the most economical manner possible, and to further relieve the tax burden on our residents in the future.”