Clarkstown Town Supervisor Alex Gromack and the Town Board presented the preliminary 2013 town budget with a 6.2 percent tax increase. The Town’s total budget is $137,301,805.
Orangetown's 2013 budget has a proposed 9.19% tax increase.
The Town is facing many challenges ahead most notably the increasing costs the County of Rockland is forcing onto the Towns, according to a press release. More than 3 percent of the Town’s 6.2 percent increase is directly associated with County costs. Those costs include approximately
- $1 million for the Rockland County Police Narcotics and Intel Task Forces
- $600,000 for the Rockland Community College Chargebacks
- $450,000 for the Rockland County Board of Elections
Clarkstown said that the County may have more cost shifts for 2013 possibly including police radios, treatment of storm drains, mosquito control programs, property taxes on vacant land and more, that could total another $1 million.
“The unstable financial state of the County of Rockland has negatively impacted the financial resources of the Town of Clarkstown and all other Towns for 2013,” said Gromack. To cope with the additional County costs, Clarkstown say they are "forced to use $2 million of its surplus (tax stabilization fund) while in the past few years the Town has used only $1.2 to $1.4 million."
Also, Clarkstown is still facing a number of other increasing costs and decreasing revenues. The press release breaks down a few examples of this:
Pension costs for both CSEA employees and police totaled $9.9 million in 2012, but increased an extra $900,000 in 2013.
Similarly, this year the Town will see an increase in health care costs of over $700,000 from $12.7 million in 2012 to $13.4 million in 2013. The Town will pay over $200,000 in MTA tax to the State of New York, while schools, libraries, and small businesses are exempt from the tax. Meanwhile, revenue sources continue to decline.
For example, at its highest in 2003, the Town received $7 million in mortgage tax revenue but is only projecting $2.6 million in 2013.
“While unfunded mandates and other external costs increase for the Town, we continue looking for cost savings by reducing the size of our workforce and government in general,” said Gromack. “This Town Board and I are committed to reaching further and looking deeper to find ways to save our residents money and still provide the quality of life they expect and deserve living in the Town of Clarkstown.”
The Town reduced its full time workforce by 72 employees since the Supervisor took office in 2005. That is a 13 percent reduction in the Town’s workforce. In 2013, the Town will be further consolidating with the three Town garages, a move that will have short and long range savings of up to $1 million.
“Despite increasing County costs, we continue to make fiscally responsible decisions trying to reduce the cost of governing without reducing services,” said Gromack. “While we look to downsize and consolidate government, we are not short changing residents. All the essential services are still being provided from recreation to leaf pick up to snow removal.”
The Town’s fiscal management has again earned it a “AAA” rating from Standard and Poor’s. The Town of Clarkstown was named in CNN/Money Magazine’s Top 100 Places to Live in America and one of the Top 10 Safest Communities in the nation by CQ Press.