GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Greenburgh citizens voiced their concerns about the tentative 2013 town budget at Wednesday night's board meeting, just days before the board will meet with department heads and the comptroller to finalize the budget.
The proposed budget, set at $68.2 million, would up the tax levy by about 2.3 percent and the tax rate by 3.1 percent if approved. Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner said he felt it was vital to keep the tax increase within the 2 percent state-imposed cap.
"The tax cap, although it's difficult for governments, it's imperative that we comply," Feiner said. "I'm very pleased we were able to accomplish that."
To keep tax increases low, however, Feiner said the government has to cut back: More than 30 full-time town government positions have been cut since 2010, according to Comptroller Bart Talamini.
But some residents argued the budget could be further reduced. The tentative budget allocates $3.3 million to employee benefits, which Edgemont Community Council Director Bob Bernstein said should be curbed. And the estimation of town revenue on the budget for next year, about $800,000 higher than last year, is "bogus accounting," he said.
Bernstein said more care should be taken for the rough budget, which Feiner said last week contained a technical error. The town board also hasn't included expenses required for the environmental cleanup for the Frank's Nursery site or for renovating the buildings on Westhelp Drive, property which the board hopes to soon lease for affordable housing.
"It does not reflect the kind of care and attention to detail that a community of this size requires," Bernstein said. "These are real expenses that will have to be incurred. Where are they in this budget?"
Feiner said the board has been swamped, but assured the cleanup costs will affect the final budget. The board estimates that the revenue from a new tenant on the WestHelp property will not cost the taxpayers anything.
No tenant has been chosen yet for the site, but the board will meet with county legislators on Tuesday to discuss the request for proposals issued for the property.
Other residents thanked the town for staying under the tax cap. Mark Cohen, a Tarrytown resident who has served on the school board, said he knows how difficult it can be to keep tax levies at a minimum.
"The town should be commended for holding under the tax cap — not only this year, but also the previous year," Cohen said.
Also at the town meeting, the board announced it will discuss the 2013 capital budget with department heads on Dec. 6.