The trustees and village department heads are currently in the thick of the budget preparation for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. A tentative budget was released on March 20, per state law, of $14.3 million, representing a budget-to-budget tax levy increase of 3.95 percent over last fiscal year’s budget of $14 million.
Two budget workshops will be held on April 1and April 8to further review and refine current numbers and craft a final budget to be released on May 1.
In the village’s previous budget, $8.5 million, or 59.4 percent, of the total budget was raised via tax levy with the balance funded through revenue sources.
In what has become a dangerous and unsustainable trend, pension costs again increased significantly—this year by 13 percent versus 19 percent in our last budget—for a total cost of $1.4 million to the state of New York for this one line item.
In tandem, healthcare costs are now $1.7 million in the current budget and are forecasted to rise precipitously in our next budget cycle. Taken together, these two line items comprise 21.6 percent of the village budget.
Add to this another $250,000 in assorted unfunded state mandates and it will be no surprise that we will be conducting a public hearing to override the governor’s and legislature’s 2 percent tax cap, which given the above information, has proven to be the height of political hubris and unbridled political ambition.
The village will be sending the state approximately $3.3 million in debts owed and receiving back in state aid approximately $130,000 per the recently passed state budget.
The state budget of $140 billion increases spending by more than $2.5 billion, yet fails to include a single item of mandate relief for local governments despite all the posturing.
Ultimately, the fault with these unsustainable mandates rests on our shoulders as voters/taxpayers as we continue to elect folks who perpetuate the unfettered spending.
My colleagues throughout the state are now in the process of cutting services and staff in order to fund all the state mandates and our village is no different.
Over the most recent budgets, in order to achieve a reasonable tax increase, the trustees and I have reduced staff to historic lows. We now have two less police officers, two less Public Works employees, two fewer staffers at the library and one less parking enforcement officer and administrative staffer.
We have also recently closed out $160,000 worth of funded capital projects in order to reach the 3.95 percent tax levy increase number and will probably have to trim even more in the coming weeks.
With the exception of increases in the cost of truck/auto parts, unleaded fuel and ammunitions, our day-to-day expenses will remain flat.
On the revenue side, Westchester County is projecting a 3 percent increase in sales tax revenue and we have incorporated the same in our budget forecast.
We are also budgeting a healthy 22.9 percent increase in mortgage tax revenue—from $175,000 to $205,000—based on the sustained robust housing market in the village.
Revenue from parking tickets is down due to a concerted effort to have a less aggressive approach in the business district and parking meter revenues are unfortunately down as well.
The village’s fund balance of approximately 15.9 percent of budget keeps us in the AAA bond rating category, which is key to all future borrowing.
Unfortunately, our interest income line is now an insignificant factor. Just a decade ago, we earned over $200,000 in interest income. This year we project $18,500. Every budget line is critical as an $81,456 shift in either added expenses or decreased revenues translates into a 1 percent increase in the tax levy.
Bronxville is in better shape vis-a-vis most other New York communities, but by no means are we on a long-term sustainable path.
Looking at the future on a more macro level is even greater cause for alarm.
States and major cities have made nearly three quarters of a trillion dollars in promises to pay for just retiree health care insurance and have set aside only 5 percent of the money they will need to pay for these promises.
States are also been crushed by overall debt obligations with New York second only to New Jersey with debt per capita at $3,258 per resident. According to New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, only 5 percent of New York’s $6.3 billion in outstanding debt has ever been authorized by the voters, the other 95 percent encumbered by circumventing the public referendum method and resorting to independent authorities such as the Transitional Finance Authority.
We have truly hit the tipping point in New York state budgets as rising taxes now pay for mandated obligations and debt rather than any new or enhanced services.