Tuesday, October 30, 2007

BOARDS DECISION IN 2005 AND 2006 TO DRAMATICALLY CUT FUND BALANCE LEADS TO BIG TAX HIKE...I DIFFERED WITH LAST YEARS POLICY

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU CUT THE FUND BALANCE BY 7 MILLION DOLLARS IN TWO YEARS…HAVE TWO CONSECUTIVE ZERO PERCENT TAX INCREASES (IN 2006 & IN 2007)…INCREASE CAPITAL EXPENDITURES…ARE INVOLVED IN THE LARGEST CONSTRUCTION PROJECT IN TOWN HISTORY?

THE 2008 PROPOSED BUDGET WAS RELEASED TODAY. UNFORTUNATELY, THERE IS A TAX HIKE. THE AVERAGE RESIDENT OF UNINCORPORATED GREENBURGH WILL SEE THEIR 2008 TAXES GO UP BY $413.02 IN 2009.

THE MAJOR REASON FOR THE BIG JUMP IN TAXES IN 2008 IS BECAUSE THE TOWN BOARD REDUCED THE FUND BALANCE (SURPLUS) BY OVER 7 MILLION IN TWO YEARS. During my tenure as Town Supervisor we built up a very healthy fund balance. All the members of the Board have been tapping into the fund balance to reduce the impact on taxes over the years. During the past two years there was a dramatic change in the use of fund balance. The other Board members wanted to give people back the bulk of the fund balance over a two year period. There were two zero percent tax hikes. At the same time, the Board members increased spending. I differed with the Board members. I favored gradual tax hikes and proposed that the Board not dip into the fund balance by the extent they did. I feel that people want predictability and stability, not dramatic swings in the tax rate. The entire transcripts of the 2007 budget vote and discussion are posted on the town web site: www.greenburghny.com. (look under forms—miscelleneous). You can read the exchange of opinions between the Board members and me re: fund balance policy in its entirety.

THE 2008 BUDGET WAS FILED WITH THE TOWN CLERK TODAY. THE BUDGET MESSAGE WILL BE POSTED IN ITS ENTIRETY ON THE TOWN WEB SITE TOMORROW AND THE ENTIRE BUDGET WILL BE POSTED ON THE WEB SITE (WWW.GREENBURGHNY.COM) LATER THIS WEEK. I am willing to meet with any resident to discuss the budget with you and to solicit your feedback. I cut $2 million from the department budget requests. Could I have cut more? Should the Board cut more funds from the budget? If we do, it will impact services. What services/programs should be cut, if any?

The following are excerpts from my comments of December 19, 2006 objecting to the drastic sudden fund balance cuts…

STATE OF NEW YORK

TOWN OF GREENBURGH

x-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x



Decision Before The Town Board

Of Greenburgh, New York, in Connection

With the Adoption of the 2007 Budget



x-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x





December 19, 2006 Greenburgh Town Hall

4:40 p.m. 177 Hillside Avenue

Greenburgh, New York







BOARD MEMBERS:



Supervisor Paul Feiner

Councilwoman Eddie Mae Barnes

Councilman Steven Bass

Councilwoman Diana Juettner

Councilman Francis X. Sheehan





STAFF MEMBERS:



Town Attorney Timothy W. Lewis

Town Clerk Alfreda Williams







REPORTED BY: Lori Ann Schirripa

Official Court Reporter



QUOTES FROM 12-19-06 BUDGET HEARING BY SUPERVISOR FEINER

ENTIRE TRANSCRIPT ON TOWN WEB SITE: www.greenburghny.com (see forms—miscelleneous)





PAGE 10



Obviously the Board is able to reduce taxes by cutting into the fund balance. And in the B budget you cut into the fund balance by about $750,000. Cutting into the fund balance surplus is not really a right answer and a wrong answer. It’s a policy decision. The question is, do we use up our fund balance now and provide residents with a very slight tax cut or would it be more fiscally prudent to have a very small tax increase this year and hopefully be able to keep tax increases very low during the next few years rather than have fluctuations and tax rates as we have seen at the county level and other levels of government.



I remember a couple years ago the County Executive and the County Board of Legislatures for three or four years, consecutive years, they had zero percent tax increases one after another. And then it was followed by a whopping whopper. I think it was over a 20 percent, you know, tax hike. And people were unprepared and it caused a lot of aggravation. And my concern is that if we would eat up into our fund balance and we have a faith based budget, as Elliot Spitzer says, he uses a term space base, where you’re relying on a lot to luck that sooner or later there will be a tax, you know, bigger tax increase.





PAGE 11



And I think people want predictability and stability. But again right now we do have the surplus. And by voting for a tax - - very small tax cut now, you know we have to let people know that there is a good chance that in the next few years there will be a tax increase. And, you know, the question is when are people going to pay for it.



SUPERVISOR FEINER: There is no public comments, but I have the right to say anything I want. So, I am going to be reading a statement, which I said - - I don’t tell you what you could say. You can’t tell me what I can say. This is part of my comments because, you know, I want it on the record, because I want the record to show the concerns, to highlight the concern in terms of the unfunded liability issues.



He indicates first Mayor Bloomberg recently announced, and he said last two or three months if my memory is correct, that rather than expand new or existing programs and reduce taxes, he as recommending that three billion of the city’s recently discovered surpluses be earmarked to begin to address the City of New York’s problem.





PAGE 13



There is other expenses. We haven’t paid yet the bulk of the library. There are other expenses. As I indicated, the borrowing for the bulk - - for a good chunk of the library construction, that’s a $20,000,000, you know, bond that was approved by the voters. It’s going to come due with the 2008 budget. So that’s, you know, before you even start, there is an additional expense that people are paying for the library. And then that’s 2008. And then the following year we’re going to have to start paying not only for the library, which we’re doing, but also the unfunded liability issues. And that’s assuming, that means we have additional, you know, expenses that we don’t have, you know, right now.





PAGE 14



So, my feeling is that it’s going to be very, very difficult in the future to avoid a zero percent tax increase or tax reductions. In fact, the fact that we’re eating into the fund balance by more than I had hoped, I predict, you know, there could be, you know, bigger tax increases than people would want. It’s going to be harder for people to predict. But again when you look at this budget right now, if you take this budget and you say, is this budget fine for 2007, you know, I can vote for it. It’s acceptable. It’s just, I would have preferred being a little bit more fiscally conservative. And I also would like to avoid the fluctuations.





PAGE 19



SUPERVISOR FEINER: Well, all I could say is that time will tell. You know, if we do have fluctuations in future tax increases, as I think we will, because, you know, I do not believe we’ll be able to maintain the zero percent tax increases, then, you know, remember what I warned and suggested. I believe that most people - - nobody wants to pay taxes. Nobody wants taxes to increase. But I think that most people in the Town would prefer very small incremental, you know, tax increases. They want predictability. I think they want stability. And although my fund balance policy is a proposal, I do feel that it’s only a proposal. It was ever adopted by the Town Board. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, the Town Board, you know, has





PAGE 20



As I said before, we do have the unfunded liabilities. We know that’s an additional cost that we’re going to have to pay for beginning in 2009. We have the library. You know, that’s additional costs we’re going to have to pay for next year. You know, we know that costs keep going up, salaries keep getting increased. We have some additional union negotiations that will have to be, you know, finalized. And I’m sure there will be increases in union, you know, wages.



So, the bottom line is, there are going to be tax increases, you know, in the future. Again, it’s pay now or pay later. And again, how much do you pay later. Would people prefer, you know, a one or two percent increase every year of would they prefer a small dip in the taxes now and then a substantial increase next year or two or three years from now.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

THIS is why we need the Democratic Primary Losers BASS and BARNES off the board. In two years lets get rid of the other losers. Now we know why BARNES and WILLIAMS went looking for support from the Republican Party because they screwed up the town like George W. Why save for a rainy day when you can f up the town now.
The plot was hatched but uncovered and thwarted. All the planning these last two years. Give away the house, have no tax increases and when Feiner looses the primary the killer B can blame Feiner and short circuit any chance for him on the I line. Well, well looks like the cat is out of the bag and they will be licking their wounds for years at the costs to us, the taxpayers. SHEEHAN , BERNSTEIN you clever dogs you.!! It almost worked. What will be the tactic to avoid culpability. IT;s Paul's fault ? nice try. Takes a majority vote. FRANCIS your ability to open your mouth will be the end of you, Thank god. You will try to defend and deflect but SORRY the residents are not stupid as proven in the primary. The only regret is we can;t proved criminal intent. Look what you left for the new board members.
You all thought you were so smart but the likes of Samis and others had little trouble in figuring your plan out. Rot in hell.

Anonymous said...

So here we are the tax payers stab by our own elected assassins. How could you be so evil that you risk our families with this mess to get at Feiner. For the last few years I blamed him. However me EYES ARE WIDE OPEN and BASS and BARNES should resign now with do nothing Juettner and the second most dangerous man in town Sheehan right behind. We leave Bernstein with the title of king sleeze. The only votes BASS AND BARNES should get are their own and they will probably be embarrassed to do that. This will take the new board time for damage control however lets have faith in them along with the new board members in two years.

Anonymous said...

And those morons voted for 405,000.00 for a master plan. Here's a master plan buy them a bus ticket and run them out of town. Knowing what was coming down the pike they still voted for this plan. How much of a kick back are we looking at.

Anonymous said...

Nov 6 can't come soon enough, god help us all pray they can't screw up more in the last few days.

Anonymous said...

So Eddie MAE can come to our church, stand up and tell tehm that god told her to run again ? HUMMM I guess the devil won out on the other shoulder. EDDIE MAE tell the residents of Fairview it's not your fault. You finally did something in your 16 years, you screwed us big time. Go back to Edgemont you don't represent us here you are a hipocrat, liar, and a cheat

Anonymous said...

Bob, Francis how do you get around this in Edgemont. They are hard working people given a bad rap because of you. See how happy they will be with you.

Anonymous said...

Where are the TRUE DEMOCRATS NOW. Lets see how far the party runs from them. I thought only the republicans ate their children and ravished the land.

dnd said...

Understood, a pre-election political posting. Unfortunately the majority disagreed with you. Nothing will change the fact that taxes will be increasing next year, but hopefully a lesson has been learned.

1st step said...

Sell Taxter Ridge now!!!

Anonymous said...

Sheehan and the Edgemont crew did not get what they wanted.
Their main objective was to get Feiner out of office, well it didn't work.
All their planning for two years only gave all of us in Greenburgh a tax hike.
Feiner did his darnest to fight them, all the way but their influence on the rest of the town board was too much.
Sheehan and the Bernstein crew do us a favor stay away from town hall meetings. You disgust most of the residents through out the town.
You have caused us our good reputations and now almost $500.00 in a tax hike.
Your school budget will most probably suffer from this.
You see all your back stabbing hits, what you were trying to defend, your famous school system.
If the residents in Edgemont are smart they will defeat your school budget big time.
Your hatred of the supervisor and his running mates has put us in a tremendous hole.
We have to thank Sheehan and friends for the tremendous hike.This coming election we must vote for the real person who has been fighting for Greenburgh FEINER AND HIS SLATE.

Anonymous said...

The civic associations especially in one part of town fought for the town to acquire more open space.
Well now is the time to get rid of some of the parkland.
We cannot afford this big tax hike,together with the fire and school tax.
Now we are asking to get rid of land to bring in some revenue.
We have to sell .

Anonymous said...

The comprehensive plan must not go further.
This too was Bernstein's McNally and Sheehans baby.
their motives were to have this passed to hurt the supervisor who was against this going ahead .
Their motives back fired because Feiner won,but our pockets are the only place that was hit hard.
Paul put the comprehensive plan on a high shelf and forget about it.

feiner to blame for 23% hike said...

Feiner's whopping 23% tax hike in the unincorporated areas is entirely of his own making.

How can he blame the Town Board for the increase when this is what Feiner himself wrote to the public on December 17, 2006:

"I believe that the Town Board has made some positive changes to the original budget. I’m pleased that the Town Board will be expanding the community policing program to Mayfair/Knollwood and support the increase in police. I believe that the $20,000 additional funds for leaf collection is good public policy that will enable the town to pick up leaves faster. I am grateful that the Board is open minded regarding the SAT/summer BIZcamp. The Board members indicated that they will support the camp if the Community Center Advisory Board endorses the concept. I am also pleased that funding for the Tappan Zee bridge review ($30,000) will stay in the budget. I support the proposed comprehensive plan study – as recommended."

And Feiner's charge that the town board is to blame for eating into the fund balance is a complete red herring. Feiner himself last year proposed a 1% tax increase by drawing down $5 million from the fund balance. The town council made a zero percent increase by drawing down an additional $750,000. Big deal.

Had that money been kept in reserves, the total tax increase this year for the unincorporated area would have been maybe 21% instead of 23%.

So who the hell does Feiner think he's kidding to be blaming the Town Board? He's the town's chief fiscal officer. It his responsibility, period.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous a/k/a Bob B at 12:59 PM quoted about the Tappan Zee Bridge Study. Bob, please STUDY last year's budget document some more. The Tappan Zee Bridge study was in the "A" budget, not the "B" budget. It's the "B" budget that EVERYONE raided.

An earlier blogger had it right. The game plan was beat the Supervisor in the primary and then when this bad news was released, Candidate Berger would come crying "See what I inherited", except that the budget passed 5-0. EVERYONE IS RESPONSIBLE. Barnes, Bass, Juettner, Sheehan, and Feiner all had their "hands" in the cookie jar. Barnes and Bass "advertsied" prominently the 0% tax hike and now the pompous Bass cries foul. He wouldn't know a fair ball if it hit him in the head in center field.

What a group. The public record is clear. And Bernstein's public comments about using the fund balance won't help him either. Go back to last year's public comments and listen to him. He was clueless about what was coming down the tracks as well. But he's a "Superlawyer". No real financial smarts there. Maybe a good legal mind, but no real financial acumen.

BASS/BARNES ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR 23% TAX HIKE said...

The Town Board is spending taxpayer dollars like it's going out of style.
Barnes & Bass (along with Sheehan & Juettner) are giving their consultant friends hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts. These contracts are unnecessary. The library project could have been built at reduced costs. The council increased personnel. They should be ashamed of themselves.

BLAME SHEEHAN TOO... said...

Blame Sheehan too.
Sheehan says yes to every appropriation request. His goal is to increase spending, force the supervisor to have to increase taxes. He has 3 other votes on the Town Council. That's why a new council is needed.

Anonymous said...

Just remember, Juettner, a village resident voted to buy parks like Taxter and bill only unincorporated Greenburgh. She is also the liasion from the Town Board to the library (something she doesnt have to pay for either).

DJ - meet Eddie Mae Barnes

Anonymous said...

You mean on her way out the (barnes) door?

Anonymous said...

Eddie Mae Barnes and Steve Bass voted to spend your money on a legislative aide who was supposed to keep our taxes down. Why are our taxes going up? PATRONAGE, my friends. POLITICS, NOT GOOD GOVERNMENT. Are you angry? I am.

feiner to blame for 23% hike said...

Where's the proposed budget?

All we know is that the increase is 23%. We know it ain't from the library. That's only 2%. Feiner says 12% or a little more than half of the increase is due to "lower use of available undesignated fund balance."

Those are Feiner's words, folks. Read em and weep. They're both gobbledegook and doublespeak. Why do unincorporated Greenburgh taxpayers let him get away with this crap?

Anonymous said...

To All:

It's obvious that Bob B (5:24 PM)won't dare sign his name to any of these postings because it would be easily shown that he doesn't know what he's talking (posting) about.

The impact of the lower use of fund balance is easily determined. For 2007, the Town Council voted to use $5.8 million. This year, the "B" budget is using $1.4 million, a decrease of $4.4 million. Simply divide that by the Town "B" assessables and you get pretty close for this taxpayer. I'm sure I've lost something in the "rounding". Ask to see the "exact" calculation, but I would be reasonably confident that the numbers will check out.

Sorry Bob B, but as A Lincoln said, You can fool some of the people some of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. Your run of half truths and slander is quickly coming to an end. Rest in peace.

The "Other" Shadow

Anonymous said...

What difference in the 23% rate increase would your changes make Paul? Something like .000???

Also what about the deferred maintenance, like we need a new Courthouse/police station??

Anonymous said...

Lets cut through the crap it takes three votes for the budget to go

Anonymous said...

The police station was recently refurbished WHY.
Now we need a new station.
Give us a break.

Anonymous said...

We don't need a new police station and we don't need a new courthouse.

Everybody always thinks that they need new and more and better. That's how we got into the new library mess because the old library was quite good. I never felt that I was missing anything. And it is the same with the court, which is very big, and also the police station.

What is needed is better management, and what is impportant is that the police chief and the judges be told that they have to make do and to stop asking.

There is no crisis and no need to spend and spend.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:25 PM you have never seen beyond the police departments front lobby. The building is falling apart and the employees have improper facilities to work in.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:53 PM, you are right, I haven't seen the police department building except from the outside. But I have seen the courthouse from the inside and we sure don't need a new one. I don't care how much they cry. They have too many people working there anyway.

dnd said...

I don't know anything about the police department, but I do agree that quality management can result in lower expenses. If the highway department were run by a professional ops manager, for example, workers would be more approporiately allocated for tasks and the town would be cleaner. The highway department could even cut a few positions and, if it were run by a skilled manager, improve its quality.

Anonymous said...

why are people talking about the court house and police headquarters? There is no active proposal to build a new building at this time. Longterm, yes. Short term, no.

Anonymous said...

What is needed is good management in all departments DPW has too many men doing nothing.
Policemen and women should be studied too much waste.
I've seen too many people working in clerical positions.
many of these jobs could be eliminated.
Management is lacking almost in all dept.
Building dept.seems to be the only one working correctly.Why?
The parks dept.too many employees.
What do these workers do in the autumn and winter ?Are they still on the payroll.
Some of the town positions can be filled by temporary help.
Management is essential for a good working town.

Anonymous said...

cancel the "art" at desanti plaza which costs thousands

Anonymous said...

cancelling the desanti plaza art work will save you a half a penny in taxes--maybe less.

Anonymous said...

im sure there are dozens of desanti plazas in the budget - cut out all the frills. let a private gallery lease the space from the town.

Ed Krauss said...

Why is the tax situation in Greenburgh being blamed on the reduction of the fund balance? The only thing the reduction in the fund balance does is REDUCE taxes because the "balance" is putting money INTO the budget that taxpayers don't have to.What is wrong with using the fund balance is using it up all at once. Taking two-thirds of the available balance in one year, creates an artificially low or no tax increase. Since their's no way to replenish what was taken out in one year, in one year there is no longer an easy source to draw down on. NO FISCAL PLANNING!
The tax mess we're in is a function of no prior fiscal planning.We are now fighting about a "Master Plan." What about a "Master Fiscal Plan?" Mr. Feiner and every board member that served with him during his 16 years in office is responsible for the myopic and/or fiscal ignorance exemplified by a complete lack of planning.
Today all the monday morning quarterbacks blame the taxes on the library for example. The library upgrade was proposed in 1997. Had it been ratified it would have cost at last half of what it's costing us today.
Other similar capital improvements were also rejected or never even considered.

Now, it's all catching up to us. Instead of planing and spreading out the cost, we are now beng socked with everything all at once, and the only defense appears to be who to saddle with the blame.
It's quite evident who to blame. Samis, Garfunkle, Bernstein, McNally, Reninger any other folks, oh yes, Lasser ARE NOT TO BLAME, because they are not elected and can't vote on anything. As far as their "invisible control" of boardmembers, I seriously doubt it.

IN the future, starting now, consider how important your vote is. And cast it after doing yur due diligence before. If you see things that shuld be done are not, complain publically; in person, in letters to the editor and what ever means are availabe.

It's your pocketbook, and if youdon't protect it who will.

Anonymous said...

Francis, Eddie Mae, Steve, Diana can't say no to an appropriation.

Anonymous said...

I find Ed Krauss, as usual laughable, this self-important professor of civics, should take his rug and fly off into the stratosphere. When did he ever contribute a wit to Greenburgh better government? He did business with Veteran and contributed to Feiner, and when his business was terminated and he became a Feiner hater. He has a big, imperfect voice, he loves to hear, as he saunters, in and out, of the political discourse like some oracle from Delphi. Please go!

The next chapter begins on January 1st, and the new group will be tested. If they do not function well, Feiner will be up for election in 2009 and the electorate, including the GOP under the direction of Myles Greenberg will have ample opportunity to make a challenge. No one knows where any new Board members will go. But, for sure, both Juettner and Sheehan will be tested in 2009. There are 50,000 voters in Greenburgh and they have November, every two years, to make their true feelings known.

The Town Board, and the airwaves have been polluted with hot air for years now. There are important points always brought up, no one can deny that reality. But they are lost in the in tsunami of political invective and character assassination, practiced by the likes of Krauss and others. Let Krauss run for office. Let him spend his dollars, go to the people, and test his ideas.

For better, or worse, Greenburgh has allowed plenty of interaction and ideas from the public. Some has been beneficial and germane to current issues, but much has been hot air, laced with ridiculum.

Feiner does not have a monopoly on good and valuable ideas. Intelligent discourse, coming from
boards, appointed and volunteer, and neighborhood associations, can always contribute, and the Town Board should listen.

But the problem is separating the wheat from the chaff and hearing sensible voices over the clamor of hatred and political ambition.

Get out and vote on Tuesday, and let the chips fall where they may. A large turnout for change will bring Feiner his first legitimate team and a mandate. Let us then see what that mandate accomplishes.

Ed Krauss said...

To 11:25 AM 11/04/07
Your analysis of me, right or wrong- and the Feiner work part is 100% wrong- omits one major element. I always use my name. Idon't hide behind the Anonymus label.

You are a coward and a weakling. You pontificate, and depricate with impunity. All the while unwilling to identify who you are.

The some total of miscreants like you, equal zero. In order to rebut such libel, one has to confront ones accuser.

Since that is not possible with punks who spew venon from behind rocks and crawl back into them, I hope yu are proud of you 15 seconds of fame...oh I forget in order to be acknowledged, people have to know who you are. Not even a pseudonym like the "Shadow," the "Son of the Shadow," or somehing descriptive.

Anonymous said...

BARNES & BASS MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE BIG TAX HIKE THEY CAUSED.

Anonymous said...

The truth hurts and loudmouths in front of the town board have created much of the mess we have! Barnes- ineffective, and Williams -mean spirited!