The Town of Mamaroneck, like many other New York State municipalities, will have to shoulder the burden of a sagging economic recovery, dwindling resources and mandated costs coupled with a new two percent property tax cap law in the upcoming year. This bleak outlook has led to intense scrutiny during the budgetary process for areas of potential savings that could avert a standoff between taxpayers whose wells have run dry and town officials who feel their hands are tied between paying the bills and maintaining essential public services.
It hasn’t been easy.
“For the town and most other municipal governments in the region, the environment in which budgets are being prepared remains difficult at best,” said Town Administrator Steve Altieri.
This year’s proposed budget is $31.3 million, a 2.8 percent increase over last year’s $30.5 million budget. The proposed increase in the tax levy is 3 percent for the town budget and 5.5 percent for the fire district.
The one snag in all this budget planning, of course, has been the two percent property tax cap that limits the amount by which local governments can raise their primary source of revenue, the tax levy.
The town, however, is able to exceed the allowable two percent cap and raise the levy a little over three percent due, partially, to an exemption for retirement costs that exceed 2 percent.
Additionally, the law allows the board to circumvent the cap entirely by enacting a law and garnering support from three out of five board members. The town approved a law that allows the board to exceed the allowable levy by no more than .8 percent.
For residents in the Villages of Larchmont and Mamaroneck with an average assessed home at $20,000, the increase in town taxes will be modest, from $453 to $459 annually, or a little over one percent. Residents of the Town of Mamaroneck, however, could see more of a significant impact, with an average assessed home increasing by a little over six percent, or $351 ($286 for the town and $65 for the fire district). The increase for town residents is slightly higher than last year’s $328 hike in taxes.
The full budget presentation can be viewed here on the town's website.
As discussed in , in order to arrive at these numbers the board did some trimming including the elimination of crossing guards from three locations: Weaver Street and Harmon Drive, Weaver Street and Plymouth Road and Murray Avenue and Colonial Road. They have also proposed eliminating crossing guards from afterschool programs at Murray Avenue and Central Schools and reducing the hours that Hommocks Pool is open. The total savings would be around $70,000.
With approximately 30-40 percent of the budget earmarked for mandated costs, board members were adamant that mandate relief was needed.
“Just think what this budget would have looked like had we seen state mandate costs follow some reasonable trend as all of our expenses had,” said Altieri.
There will be another public hearing on the budget, next Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. at the Town Center. The budget will be adopted on Dec. 14.