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Budget 2012 Passes Despite Controversial Beginning

GREENBURGH, N.Y. – The town's budget passed Tuesday afternoon by a 4-1 vote. Unincorporated Greenburgh's budget, the "B Budget" is $65.7 million, meeting the tax cap with a two percent tax levy increase and a 3.3 percent tax rate increase. It is a slightly over $2.3 million less than last year's budget.

The "A Budget," which covers the entire town including its six villages, passed at $15.5 million, meeting the tax cap, with an increased tax levy of two percent and an increased tax rate of 4.6 percent. It is a near-$9,000 increase from 2011.

Last minute changes to the budget reduced the Greenburgh Public Library's funding by roughly nine percent, eliminated a new auditor position, and saved four jobs by reconfiguring positions. As of last week, it was expected that six positions would be eliminated – four from the parks and recreation department. To reduce layoffs, those four employees were moved to the department of public works, into different jobs that were vacant and yet to be filled. The two positions that are being eliminated in the 2012 budget come from the town attorney's office and a lifeguard at the indoor pool.

Medical insurance premium rates were projected to be a 15 percent increase, but came in at a 2.7 percent increase, saving the town $183,000 in the town's "A Fund" and $827,000 in the "B Fund." While the library's budget decrease also put $250,000 in the "B Fund," the town board could reinstate part of that money if the library provides concrete documentation for its need.

The budget officer and internal auditor position, which were eliminated in early December, were a point of high controversy as they totaled $80,000 in salaries in the same budget that eliminated six town positions. Feiner called off the two new jobs, saying that he did not "want to create constant fighting" and wanted to "show the public that we are going to have to make cuts."

Residents and the town board were exceptionally critical of this year's budget process as comptroller Bart Talamini said last month that the town's "B Fund" could be in a deficit by 2015 if no changes are made.

The 2012 budget preparation marked the first time in several years that the town council did not have a say in its initial configuring. Town Supervisor Paul Feiner created the Budget Oversight Committee, a group of 24 volunteers with extensive backgrounds in politics, law, media and non-profit organizations. Shortly before presenting their research at a budget hearing on Nov. 30, with two dissenters in the group, the town board was able to look at the budget guidelines to close the financial gap.

The votes were cast by Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, Councilmen Francis Sheehan and Kevin Morgan, and Councilwomen Diana Juettner and Sonja Brown. Had the budget not received a favorable vote Tuesday, the town would have reverted back to the tentative budget, released at October's end.

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