With a few controversial Clarkstown items happening recently and Supervisor Alex Gromack on the list of guest speakers, more than 60 people filled the seats at Thursday’s Nanuet Civic Association meeting.
Many were interested in what Gromack had to say about the on school tax bills and the new Highway Department’s , which pays $75,000 a year. Frank Sparaco, a Rockland County legislator, was hired for this position by Highway Superintendent Wayne Ballard.
Unfortunately there was not enough time left for many questions from the public so Gromack said that he will return for a later civic meeting to answer the public’s questions.
“Orangetown is looking at a 15 percent tax hike … they’re trying to manage as best as they can, but the numbers aren’t working,” said Gromack. “In the town of Clarkstown, we’ve done some things that have structurally changed government. The last three years, we had a 1.6 percent tax hike, 2011 we had 0 (percent tax hike) and 2012, a 0 (percent tax hike). How did we do it? We reduced our workforce by 15 percent, we consolidated offices … we didn’t rehire (people for certain positions) … Just the other day, we consolidated the town garages … over the next six years, that will be a million-dollar savings.”
He added that these tactics have allowed him and the Clarkstown town board to avoid high tax hikes.
“We need to talk about where we are as a town and a county because that is a fundamental. We are being poorly treated by the county executive,” said Gromack, adding that he and the town board are going to fight Vanderhoef’s policies that hurt towns and schools, but the fight comes at a price.
“We’re going to fight it, but there’s going to be some pain in fighting it,” he said. “(Orangetown Supervisor) Andy Stewart is looking at a 15 percent tax hike. I don’t believe we’re going to be anywhere near that … For this year, we’re getting a $2 million bill from Scott Vanderhoef that we never had to pay before,” such as towns contributing to Rockland Community College and taking over some of the costs of monitoring mosquito trappings, which is a county responsibility.
Gromack said that decisions made by County Executive Scott Vanderhoef are hurting the towns, which led to Clarkstown’s addition of the 1 percent surcharge as a processing fee to collect school taxes.
Gromack said that the town had been able to collect the taxes without charging a fee for many years and were happy to to do so. In comparison, "Ramapo collected a fee for over 20 years, Haverstraw for 15 years, Orangetown did it last year. We never had to do it, but when the county executive gave us a $2 million bill this year … we said, something’s got to give … so yes, we had to do an assessment to help balance the books. The sad part is, if we collect $1.5 million (from the surcharge) … that money’s going to go right back to Scott Vanderhoef.”
Gromack added that Legislators Ed Day and Chris Carey are two that fight for the towns on the legislature. He also suggested that the civic association invite Clarkstown Town Assessor Cathy Conklin to their next monthly meeting as a guest speaker.
The second concern many had at the meeting was Sparaco’s new part-time position. Unfortunately, Ballard was not present due to a scheduling conflict.
Gromack responded that the appointment was something he and the town board had no control over.
“The appointment of the people in the Highway Department under New York State Law is an appointment solely by the superintendent of highways,” he said. “Mr. Ballard said he will come and will explain it.”
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