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Orangetown Questions Blauvelt Fire Budget, Revenue Projections

The Orangetown Council continued to discuss the 2013 budget at Tuesday's workshop meeting.

The Orangetown Town Board will hold a public hearing 8 p.m. Oct. 23 to consider a measure that would allow the council to override the state-mandated two percent tax cap for the 2013 town budget.

The members of the board have expressed doubts that they can get under the cap, but they continued the work of trying to lower the projected tax levy increase for 2013 at Tuesday's workshop.

Town Attorney John Edwards raised the issue of the Blauvelt Fire Prevention District budget, which must be approved by the town board. He questioned the need for some of the funding from the town for that budget, which includes money going into reserves.

"(The town's) fund balance is declining and you're being asked to fund a non-for-profit's fund balance," Edwards said. "You should have had the numbers sooner than later."

Edwards said that while he appreciates the services of volunteer fire departments, it seems that in some cases there are funds accumulating in reserves.

Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart responded by saying he will ask the Blauvelt Fire Prevention District to make a presentation to the board regarding their budget at the Oct. 23 meeting, as it is the last meeting before the board hopes to approve a 2013 budget Nov. 7. The district made a similar presentation a year ago.

More 2013 Budget Discussion

Councilman Tom Morr raised the issue of the closure of Broadacres Golf Course, saying that he was in favor of keeping it open and that the discussion since then has not changed his mind.

"We would be closing something valuable for a short-term economic problem," Morr said.

The idea has been controversial, drawing public criticism at multiple meetings this year. 

"I feel it has a higher profile as a lightning rod than it does an overall budget impact," Stewart said.

Councilman Tom Diviny questioned the $1 million projection for mortgage tax revenue in the tentative budget for 2013 proposed by Stewart Sept. 24. 

"I'm just saying based on revenues we've received and the work I'm doing, I think $1 million is low," Diviny said. "If we underestimate revenues, we will have a higher tax rate."

Orangetown Supervisor of Fiscal Services Ann Maestri said the estimate is based on numbers coming from the county. Diviny and Councilman Denis Troy said they do not trust the county's numbers, which have been off in the past, though they tend to overestimate, not underestimate. Diviny aid that they both think $1.25 million is a better projection.

The town brought in $1.4 million from mortgage taxes in 2010 and 2011.

DEME Position Approved

The town board voted to approve the establishment of an assistant plant manager in the DEME, but it is an adjustment in an existing employee's title, not a new hire.

The new position is required due to changes in county regulations. 

 

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