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Town Could Be In Deficit With Fund Balance in 2015

GREENBURGH, N.Y. – The town's "B Fund," in charge of unincorporated Greenburgh, is at risk of being in a deficit by the year 2015, according to the town's comptroller.

At the request of Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, Comptroller Bart Talamini provided a projection of the town's funds at Tuesday's work session. His projection was that Unincorporated Greenburgh would be in a hole within the next five years, and be in violation of the Fund Balance Policy (which increases financial stability) before 2013.

With the way that the budget is currently being run, Talamini said, including salary increases, library and teamster funds and inflation rates, there might not be too many ways around the fact.

"It's dramatic in two ways," he said. "One being the impact that the cap is having on the town because the cap can only grow to two percent when your benefits are growing at the rates I've just outlined. Those lines cross in 2015, driving the 'B Fund' into a deficit position."

Although Feiner is looking for concessions from unions, Talamini said that it would not make much of a difference in future budgets. Even with tweaking, the outcome would still, largely, be the same. The variables most influential to the outcome – worker's compensation, medical and pension contribution – are not controlled by the Town Board. The other variables are not as significant in changing the outcome of the budget.

Talamini also highlighted that the "A Fund," which is for the whole town including the six villages, at some point in the future, is likely to also find itself in a deficit.

"What we're actually seeing here is a recipe for disaster," said Town Councilman Francis Sheehan, who added that even with "rosy projections," the town will need $10 million in 2015 from a fund that has a non-existent balance.

The 2012 proposed budget was the first that the entire Town Board did not have a hand in, said Sheehan. It was, instead, prepared by a budget committee. The current budget meetings that are set so close to year's end do not leave much time to make changes without having unforeseen problems in the future.

"What we're facing here is a very dramatic reduction in all of our reserves to the point where, and it could not get any more dramatic, we are heading towards a default of the town," said Sheehan.

Councilwoman Sonja Brown sided with the comptroller, saying that while the budget committee worked hard to prepare the proposed budget, the current numbers still do not put the town in a good place for the future.

"Just looking at the information here, it is doomsday," Brown said to Feiner. "And if we don't stop the horse-and-pony act, we're going to be more in trouble and you're are going to place this town in deeper financial trouble."

Feiner was quick to defend his budget, saying that the town will not default. He added that he and the Town Board are determined to make the budget work, and he will do what he can for the town to stay within the tax cap.

"We're just going to have to figure out how to do it," said Feiner. "I don't think it's a doomsday scenario."

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