The Town of Mamaroneck, like many other local municipalities, is struggling to balance their annual budget in the wake of a stagnant economy, dwindling revenues, state mandated costs and a looming two percent property tax cap.
Making this task even more challenging is a complaint echoed by homeowners countywide: Don’t raise my property taxes. With 44 percent of the budget earmarked for mandated costs according to a budget summary letter available on the Town of Mamaroneck website, however, town officials are faced with tough choices concerning potential cuts to public services.
“We have a budget that falls under the tax cap for all of the budget with the exception of the fire district,” said Town Administrator Steve Altieri about the preliminary budget, which can be viewed on the town’s website here.
Reducing the number of hours that Hommocks Pool is open during off-season will save the town $38,000, said Altieri, and is being considered as a potential cut.
Another possible change being discussed would be to reduce the number of school crossing guards in the town from 13 to 10, eliminating guards at several intersections including Plymouth Road and Weaver Street, Harmon Drive and Weaver Street and Murray and Colonial Avenues. Additionally, crossing guards for afternoon activity programs at Murray Avenue and Central School would also potentially be cut, saving the town an additional $25,000-30,000.
“The locations were chosen based upon the Police Department’s review of each crossing. Consideration was given to the traffic at each crossing, estimated number of pedestrians and the road width at the crossing. Also, if another protected crossing was nearby that too was part of the consideration,” said Altieri in an e-mail.
Some intersections that developed into crossing areas were inherently dangerous from the beginning.
“Colonial and Murray sort of evolved because people started to cross at that street,” said Altieri, continuing, “The concern is that if you’re traveling northbound on Murray that you come around the corner, the crossing is upon you.”
“Guard or no guard, there has always been some fear a vehicle may not be able to stop in time," he said.
It’s also unclear how many kids still traverse the same routes that they did in the past or whether extended afterschool activities and/or bus service has caused them to choose alternate forms of transportation.
“When they first put crossing guards there many, many more kids walked home..now there are fewer and fewer kids,” said Town Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe.
“Most people are looking for the town to do everything it can to bring the budget within the cap and this becomes the result of that…we have to look at our services,” said Altieri.
The town will hold a public hearing on Dec. 7 at the Town Center at 8 p.m. to hear comments from the community on the proposed changes.
“We would really like to hear from the public about these changes,” said Councilwoman Nancy Seligson.
Stay tuned for further updates on the Town of Mamaroneck budgetary process.