In her weekly column, Bronxville Mayor Mary Marvin discusses the reasons why it will cost more to park in the village next week:
During the most recent budget process, the trustees and I had to make extremely difficult choices in order to address unfunded state mandates that have reached crisis proportion. As example, the village was required to send a check to Albany for $3,205,376 for the myriad of mandates and we received, all in, $64,713 direct in state aid. Unless the elected officials in Albany commit to serious reform, budget woes will only escalate and essential services will be on the chopping block in the very near future.
Our problem was further compounded by the fact that our budget is so revenue dependent. In the 2012 – 2013 budget of $13.9 million, $5.4 million is derived from various revenue sources resulting in $8.5 million collected from property taxes. Revenue is down in all the major categories including sales tax, mortgage tax and interest income. We quite literally had to “find” money to pay our ever increasing debt to Albany and our options were limited because we had done so much belt tightening in years prior. In recent past budgets, we renegotiated health care contracts, legal services, even telephone service and trimmed village staff by 15 percent.
To make up the shortfalls, we had to reluctantly raise the cost of alarm permits, parking tickets and building permits. Based on our review of like communities and their fee structures, we simply “caught up” with our neighbors. With a great deal of spirited discussion and by no means unanimity, we reviewed the few revenue possibilities remaining and decided to increase the parking meter fee to one quarter for fifteen minutes versus the current fee of the one quarter for twenty minutes. This revenue generating solution rose to the fore because of the length of time since a prior cost adjustment (8+ years) and the fact that the new rates only put us in line with meter costs in our neighboring communities.
Given that we continue to own the dubious distinction of being the highest taxed community in the highest taxed county in the country, we believe piling on more property taxes to cover our costs to Albany on the very small sphere of payees (approximately 2,300 addresses) was too much to bear. Also, increasing taxes will also have a direct impact on our merchant costs. When taxes go up, store rents go up to absorb the increase as a pass through from the landlord.
In the end, we believed the meter increase, representing a “user” fee that is spread over many, many more payees was the most equitable of our limited choices. We did not go the route of extending the meter day to 7 p.m., 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. that many of our neighbors have been forced to do because of the severe impact on our plethora of restaurants and the movie theater. We know our budget cycle and the impending increase came at the precise time that we had several stores go out of business.
The timing and the optics could not have been worse but we must abide by a very prescribed state budget calendar. Faced with decisions like this, where you know the outcome will be truly upsetting to some and regrettable to all, including the trustees, is hands down the hardest part of our job. I can assure you that the trustees and I did not come to this decision, nor any other, lightly and subjected all our options to a comprehensive analysis. We are very aware of our fiduciary obligation to you as taxpayers and as prudent stewards of your funds.