Sunday, June 01, 2008


Drop in housing sales is hurting towns' bottom lines
By Elizabeth Ganga
The Journal News • June 1, 2008

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With the sharp drop in housing sales and lower prices cutting into mortgage-tax revenue, some towns are cutting their budgets with months left in the fiscal year and others are keeping a close eye on spending in case they need to cut them later.

North Castle has a goal of saving $500,000 by the end of the year and Supervisor Reese Berman has directed town departments to cut spending by 10 percent across the board. In addition, there is no more overtime except for emergency service workers and several open positions have been eliminated, including a part-time secretary to the supervisor.

Even with all that, the town hasn't reached its goal.

"All of the supervisors are looking for ways to cut back," Berman said.

Putnam County collected about $2.4 million in mortgage taxes from October through March, down from $3.13 million for the same period a year earlier. The county just recently passed out the checks to the towns.

"That's a pretty significant drop and that's obviously due to the economy," said county Finance Commissioner William Carlin.

Homeowners taking out new mortgages or refinancing pay a tax, part of which goes to municipalities. And with fewer homes being sold and house prices falling, fewer dollars are coming into the government. In the first quarter of the year, sales of single-family homes fell 34 percent in Rockland, 30.5 percent in Westchester and 9.2 percent in Putnam. Prices also dropped a few percentage points.

Heavily residential towns are probably hardest hit by the mortgage tax slide because they rely more on it than municipalities with more diverse tax bases.

The new tax year for villages begins today and many cut their mortgage tax estimates in response to the dire news as they prepared their budgets in April.

Though Westchester and Putnam have a sense of how the revenue from the tax is shaping up this year, Rockland towns get their payments in July. But anticipating a bad year, they also cut their projections.

Haverstraw Finance Director Mike Gamboli said he put a very conservative number on the budget line. For 2007, the town's estimate was $550,000, and the actual revenue was $1.2 million. For 2008, the town budgeted $700,000.

The town of Putnam Valley received $765,000 in mortgage tax revenue for 2007 and had budgeted $700,000 for 2008. But mid-year receipts came in at $288,195, said Finance Director Marianne DeSantis. In response, Supervisor Robert Tendy asked all department heads "to take measures to offset what could be a large revenue gap," in a May 29 memo.

Effective immediately all requests for office supplies must be made to the supervisor's office, no overtime is permitted until further notice except in emergency situations for highway staff, and Town Hall will no longer be open one Saturday a month for bulk item drop-offs. He said he was working on other cost-savings and revenue-generating measures.

In New Castle, department heads and administrators have found about $100,000 to cut so far.

"We've told each department head, 'Make believe it's not there,'" said Town Administrator Gennaro Faiella.

That includes cutting one town newsletter and $40,000 from the paving budget. The current estimates put the mortgage tax revenues at $1.42 million. The town budgeted $1.67 million and may need to make more cuts or dip into the fund balance to make up the difference.

Other communities are warily eyeing the revenue line.

Mamaroneck Town Administrator Stephen Altieri said officials think they will be able to meet their estimate of $1.2 million. Last year they took in about $1.9 million, he estimated.

New Rochelle also is on target, said Finance Commissioner Howard Rattner. Last year the city got about $4.6 million in mortgage tax revenue and this year it estimated $3.9 million.

"We lowered our budget, anticipating that the mortgage tax would be significantly lower than previous years," he said. The sale prices of homes are down about 6 percent, he said.

Greenburgh is tightening up this year and looking at a flat budget or a spending cut for next year, said Supervisor Paul Feiner.

Martha Dodge, the Ossining town supervisor, said she will decide next month whether cuts are necessary.

"We're not panicking yet," she said.


Anonymous said...

Cutting spending is coming a little too late.
All your projects are either being built or have been at taxpayers expense..

I'ts time to close down many of your dreams as to having the first in the country,

The center must go,, the housing project should be put under honest managers not commissioners.
All resident in this housing should show their tax returns so we can see if they qualify for affordable quarters.
The housing should not have private police protection by the GREENBURGH POLICE and above all they must pay back the money owed for this service plus interest.

You and your board have done enough damage to the amount of taxes that we pay in acquiring Taxter Ridge and the upkeep of the mismanaged rumbles of parkland.

Your town roads are a complete mess. Not only messy but dirty .With all the employees in the DPW this should not have happened.

The one in charge makes too much money for doing nothing.
What the town council is now trying to do is put a bandaid on all spending,did you forget there is nothing left to spend.
You all did enough damage to last Greenburgh a life time.
Has the council driven thru the town and villages,have you noticed how many for sale homes there are.
These signs are telling you we have got to get out let someone else take over our heavy load.

Guess what they are not selling so the person trying to sell will be burdened with what ever taxes were previously paid plus more for next year.

Your cutting came a little bit too late.

Anonymous said...

Why does it take so long to pick a new director of the community center? Anybody would be better than what we have now!

Anonymous said...

lets cut 10% from every dept.
15% from the police budget!
that would be a good start!

juettner must go said...

juettner is at the heart of all these fiascos esp the library.

she is the liasion to parks and rec from the town board also - thats nuts as she lives in a village!!

juettner must go. juettner is a disaster.

Anonymous said...

Oh I didn't know that Juettner was the laison for the rec .dept too.

This is why we are loosing our shirt because she doesn't give a dam.

It's time for her to step down maybe luck will be on our side when the Dromore case comes up in the courts.
Then we will get rid of the two who voted in the library and all the parks.
To the ones that are fighting for the housing authority watch out. The residents commissioners and spoke persons are doing some job on you.
In all sincerity it looks as though you are falling for their demands big time.
Remember there are no poor people in Greenburgh. The are all a bunch of phonies.

Anonymous said...

"towns are cutting their budgets"

But notice as you drive around that roadway maintenance is still a high priority in all the municipalities listed ... except Greenburgh.

Anonymous said...

Have you noticed,all listed
municipalities thru their
elected officials are cutting
expenses,freezing hiring and
overtime,etc etc and are
facing todays realities.
Have you noticed, "Greenburgh
is thightening up this year
and looking at a flat budget
or a spending cut for next year
,said Supervisor Paul Feiner "
I don't know if I should laugh
or cry ?

Anonymous said...

The town hasn't had a town engineer in many months. No deputy commissioner at TYCC.

Anonymous said...

How much will you cut from Fairview?????????

hal samis said...

Today's work session should tell the tale.

The Library has applied for and received some grants from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY).

Without going into details, the crux of the matter is that this matter, now three months old, is that per the requisites of DASNY, the grants are to REDUCE the bonding. This would, in turn, reduce taxes for unincorporated residents.

However since the Supervisor wants to appear as the friend of the Library as the ribbon cutting approaches, the Town Board, which is commencing a whistle stop tour of appearances to seek ways to CUT the budget, doesn't want to know from this issue.

Tim Lewis, Town Attorney, is no stranger to appeasing the Town Board. Having done nothing about this for months and I mean nothing -- not even contacting DASNY -- finally responded to my supplying him the name and phone number of Counsel for DASNY and reported that he has spoken but that nothing definite was concluded. Knowing Mr. Lewis' style of seeing where the wind is blowing before replying, I can only suspect that he failed to ask defining questions.

In any case, at today's work session the oft postponed meeting with the Library and Triton is again on the Agenda. My bet is that the Town will let Triton and the Architect off the hook from financial responsibility for their mistakes, make the Library pay for the result and then take the grant money to replenish the project's coffers. Thus, this is a way around the spending cap of the referendum. The only ones to suffer, as usual, are the taxpayers who, for the most part, won't be aware that it did not have to go this way.

Don't worry, be happy. Your Town Board is out there trying to cut expenses to keep your taxes down.

Let's keep a running tab on how this is to be accomplished.
The Supervisor says he won't fill vacanciesas they occur.
1) Town Board hires replacement Planning Commissioner.
2) Town Board at work hiring new Communcity Center head.
3) Town Board hires replacement for portion of vacant energy czarina. At present, the unfilled remaining portion warm body is being vetted.
4) Town Supervisor agrees to support $400,000 cost of the Comprehensive Plan conditioned upon the income from the Sport Time tennis contract. Deal falls apart; Comprehensive Plan continues unabated. Final cost of Comprehensive Plan to implement its recomendations: Upwards of $10 million.
5) Town Board approves Capital Budget (again, because 1/6 of the Budget was already in place or ordered). Public Hearing a farce when Town Board attempts to stonewall this acknowledgement. Kevin Barnes says shut-up, you got your answer but fails to recognize that to do so took three trips to the transcript to get that satisfaction. Franchise Sheehan admonishes resident for grinning.
6) Town Board holds Police Promotion photo-op despite the Chief of Police's inability to attend. Town Board, for same reason, starts meeting almost two hours later. Replacement for the absent Chief earns $400 in overtime for his appearance.

Anyone want to continue this list?
Come on in, the water's Feiner.

juettner is a problem said...

just remember folks - diana juettner, village resident, liaison from the town board to the unincorporated town library.

what part of this wrong does juettner not understand?

Anonymous said...

Juettner is bad, no doubt about it. But not because she lives in a village. The villages are part of the town, remember, and they are not enemies, Bernstein notwithstanding.

Anonymous said...


And what about the Dog Park? do we need that - doesnt the county have a dog park nearby.

hal samis said...

7) dog park; however, what if the County government closes down, then where will Fido play?

hal samis said...

8) Town Board at work session agrees to keep Triton on board despite the knowledge that they are still on board and charging the project for their ride due to their own errors and self-created delays.  Town continues to pay them their monthly fee (around $21-23,000) since their fixed contract for $680,000 expired in March and if they stay, the Town pays.  April, May, June, July, August, September (or beyond?).  Not a bad deal for Triton. Of course, the project is still on target and not over budget.

If you believe that, I've got a nice bridge that the Town can waste $25,000 studying.  

Anonymous said...

At todays work session the library representative together with our town clerk decided to have the first open festival guess for what and when.

February, celebrating Black History month.
Now tell me does the library belong to all the people or just a chosen few.

I think that was in poor taste. As soon as I heard that I walked out.
yes Fairview is the only interest that this town council has.

Anonymous said...

After today, should we put a police officer in Ardsley middle school or what?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, just have the police officer sit next to that School Board Members kid.

Anonymous said...

What happened in Ardsley????????

Anonymous said...

How much will you be cutting out of the centers and police budgets?
These are the two areas that are eating up all the tax money.
Let's see if we have strong persons on the board or do we have scarry cats who won't do the right thing to serve all the people townwide.

The library needs more money --you mean to tell me that they did not know this ahead of time.
They knew before the final plans were presented
How many times were questions asked about the furniture and the carpeting, and the public was assured that there was enough money to cover these expenses.
Why are they playing games with the board and with peoples pockets.
What will they come up with next month?

Anonymous said...

Its only TDYCC that eats up money. Veterans collects fees to pay for most of it. Other parks and rec includes Pauls open space, dog park, etc.

Anonymous said...

TDYCC budget for 2008 is $3,066,000 and another $745,000 for the indoor pool there. TDYCC and indoor pool are both open town-wide to all village residents, but only unincorporated pays. Town collects very little in fees to offset any of these costs.

2008 budget for Veterans is $511,000. Veterans is supposed to be for unincorporated only, but town lets in some village residents. Town collects about $140,000 in fees to offset those costs.

Anonymous said...

If you want to offset the cost you must raise all the fees for non residents.

We are not running these parks and pool properly.

Tell me what kind of business persons are you who represent the town.You are a big failure in bringing in some money.
Why is it that the center needs so much money. What are they doing with the money that they get.
Have any of you on the board checked this out.
Enough is enough not all the residents use this place so why are their demands so high. Who is pocketing the money?
How many renovations were made and completed ?
Please stop being so free with taxpayers money.
An investigation should be in place with the State Comptroller and the Attorney General.
Something stinks with this center and if you cannot come up with the answer then some one else has to.
Kolesar how far back have you checked the center. We know that the previous comptrollers were not so honest with their findings.
We now put the burden on your shoulders because we know that you will come up with honesst figures.

Anonymous said...

I think someone should demand to see the actual usage of the TDYCC. It's a sure bet that it will be a real eye opener. While it's widely know that it is predominantly used by only one community, I get the feeling that a large share of users don't even have valid town unicards.

Taken from TDYCC brochure: "Staff reserves the right to ask patrons to produce their I.D. permits upon request."

What does that tell you?

Anonymous said...

They let a lot of extra people in at Veterans also.

Anonymous said...

Just remember - no other Town has had the "benefit" of having the same Supervisor since 1992. Other Supervisors are blaming their predecessors - we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Anonymous said...

You are right on the button,no one wants to question the usage by the residents in the other areas.
The same goes for those living in the neighborhood.
They have done what they wanted to do all these years without anyone supervising their programs.
Just get the money and shut up.
They don't care what we do but we still have to keep asking because if we don't then they'll catch on to what we have been doing which is nothing. Nice attitude at taxpayers expense.

Kolesar check this out carefully.

Anonymous said...

How much will you cut from the centers budget....

Uh Uh Uh I guess none of you on the board will answer.

What about the police dept.
Uh Uh Uh ////no answer.

What about the parks dept and DPW ?

Oh well the same answer for all, just keep playing dumb.

Anonymous said...


I assure you that nary a 2 year old gets by the gate keepers Veterans pool without a valid unicard.

Yes, a 2 year old is required to have one.

Anonymous said...

Where does this two year old live??????????

Anonymous said...

If it's swimming at the pool, paid for and admitted by way of unicard, it lives in Unincorporated Greenburgh. Supposedly.

Ed Krauss said...

Bravo,6/02/08,8:45 AM
The early bird catches the worm,or exposes him/them.The troube is not enough people are as astute as you, or may have more demands on their time to stop and reflect on the obvios. (My guess is a few more 20+% tax increses will get their attention, at least in the unincorporated part of town. Maybe those in the villages may need another $6,000,000 shortfall the entire town experienced because we were severely underinsured when that couple was hit by a falling tree on Central Ave. a few years ago.)

Equally sad, this blog does not reach enough people to make a difference.

We didn't just getto this point by chance andthe confluence of the stars, it took "hard work," pioneering mismanagement techniques and the "inadministrative"ability of a gafly who would be king.

But he was not alone. He had a team of bobbing heads along the way with him. Diana Juettner was the only ne with him from the beginning. But she too, was not alone. There was always Paul and Di andthree to say aye.

Wven when four of them "ganged up" on him, he still outflanked them as they tripped over their own feet.They met the enemy and the enemy was them.

Anonymous said...

9:13 -- so all the two years have cards. What about the 3 through 80 year olds. Common knowledge -- Feiner's instructions is all FOFs, town employees (that support him), etc get in. With their guests.

Anonymous said...

Those who are allowed into the parks free or without the proper ID,is not all Paul's doing.
Do we not have a commissioner of parks and rec?

Anonymous said...

Yes, we have a Parks and Rec commissioner, who serves at the pleasure of Paul and his team. This commissioner, Gerry Bryne, could wait to come up with a bogus list of use of TOV facilities by non-TOVers such as guests to try to convince TOVers to agree to allow Finnerman to be allowed by village residents.

Anonymous said...

Well then if he serves the board alone he should be replaced,

We do know that he is in love with the center and doesn't give a dam how our money is spent.
He should be overseeing all the money given to the center in previous years for work that was never done.
And the parkland let's face it how much refurbishing has to be done over and over again for the same thing.Where is that money going????
Money was granted throughout the years without checking to see if and how it was used.
There is no way that that the same renovations are done year in and year out.

Anonymous said...

Stop the BS and make the cuts that are needed to keep the town afloat.

You all were advised as to where the cuts should be made but since friendship enters the picture none of the cuts will be made
Overtime in the PD must go.
The center should be bringing in enough revenue to stay alive.
IF this is not possible close it.
Too much of our money is being wasted .
The housing authority must pay what they owe for private police protection.Once again the chief should not have let this sevice continue without payment.
Get back all the money that is outstanding.
You will need it when people start asking to have their taxes lowered and the tax base goes lower and lower.
We will not stand for incompitence anymore. We have had enough.

Anonymous said...

Anon, 8:07, you have my vote for council.

I would add, stop with the police promotions, we cant afford more chiefs.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of, one of the three comissioners in the rec dept.
Makes no sense(cents) to have three

Anonymous said...

Please make the cuts and stop the BS.

You are playing a game because not one of you want to look like the bad guy.
You have to save money so do what the hell you have to do and stop pussying arround.

Take your pick said...

You can have good government or you can have cheap government - but yoiu will never have good cheap government