In its 16th year, the Orangetown Police Department’s open house added a new wrinkle: it expanded.
“It’s the first time we’re having a town and police open house on the same day, and the theme is something that’s very common in law enforcement today, but really, it should be common all throughout the country: community building, residents and government working together for a safer community,” said Orangetown Police Chief Kevin Nulty. “I hope that anybody who attended the open house today learned something and have a greater understanding of how different aspects of our town government work.”
The open house allows families to go on tours of the police station and learn about all the department does. Kids also get a chance to try on some of the gear, such as helmets and bulletproof vests that are just a tad too big for the kids.
There was also an ambulance with EMT workers on hand to tell kids about what they do, as well as a vehicle from the Orangetown Highway Department. There were displays about town history and a spot for children to do crafts.
Alyson Benoit was also on hand to talk to kids about the Orangetown Youth Police Academy. Last year, Benoit worked to raise funds to continue the program for a 16th year after it was cut from the budget, and the Albertus Magnus senior is starting to fundraise to keep the program going this year as well.
Town employees were on hand Saturday to talk to guests about what they do in Orangetown. Town Supervisor Andy Stewart held an information session toward the end of the day on the town budget. Stewart said part of the reason for holding an information session on the budget is to educate the public so they know what’s going on and can have informed opinions.
“In an effort to take the meat and potatoes of the budget, which is essentially an enormous spreadsheet with about 600 line items, and start to get to the point where people can more easily get a handle on it, comment on it, get insight into it, offer their suggestions and their feedback, we developed a few presentation tools,” he said.
He gave a basic overview of how the budget breaks down, including where the town’s revenue comes from. Stewart handed out a packet of information, and included in the packet was a pie chart of the town’s revenue sources, with 62 percent coming from property taxes. Other larger sources of income include sewer charges (11 percent) and recreation fees (seven percent).
The town’s spending was broken down into police (35 percent), general fund (19 percent), highway (15 percent), sewer (12 percent), debt service (seven percent), golf courses (six percent) and town outside village (six percent).
Stewart also said “the basic principle of budgeting is you underestimate your revenue and you overestimate your expenses.” This, he added, is for any unforeseen circumstances. Underestimating the revenue works if the sales tax isn’t as expected and overestimating the expenses helps if the town needs to do a sewer project unexpectedly. It can also help multiple ways in regards to weather.
“You might have a storm that costs you hundreds of thousands of dollars to pick up all the trees,” Stewart said. “Or on the positive side, you might have a winter with no snow whatsoever.”
He said that last year the town saved about $500,000 because of the lack of snow thanks to things like the salt and fuel that was left over.