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Clarkstown 2013 Proposed Budget Raises Taxes 6.2%

The town said that more than 3 percent of the Town’s 6.2 percent increase is directly associated with County costs.

 

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.

Michael N. Hull September 29, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Mr Gromack gave the police a net 13% raise over the next 5 years at 2.5%/year for the life of the contract. I accept that deal - I will take a 2.5% tax increase for the next 5 years to give the Town 13% more of my income.   That's what people working or retired will receive in salary/pension increases in the same period. So don't tell us that you need 6%! With 2. 5% increase in tax revenue the Town will have a shortfall which it can fill by using the Town's reserve fund or it can cut costs.  Where are those costs?  They are in bloated salaries and pensions.  Solution is lay-offs or give-backs.  Not my problem - 2.5% is my fair share.  The rest is what we elected you to figure out. The Town will lose it's AAA rating. So what?  The USA doesn't have a AAA rating, the County's rating is near junk status.  Who pays the Town, County, State, Federal, and the Sales Taxes?  It's the same taxpayers.   What is their 'Moody's' rating?  If Gromack claims he is paying the County's junk level bills then in my book its rating is the Town's rating - junk. Why are we paying to plant flowers around Lettre's Town Hall and to water this horticultural profusion if the Town has an expense problem?  Why are we paying a County legislator $75,000 per year to be a part-time assistant to Ballard?  If the Town needs a village idiot I will take the job for free.  After all I know that in financial management there are 3 types of people - those who can count and those who can't.
Pat Godfrey September 29, 2012 at 02:05 AM
We need real leadership right now. We see the writing on the wall and we are in the process of going bankrupt. The town budget salaries and benefits are to costly. It cannot be sustained. Gromack and the town board are re-arrainging the deck chairs on the titanic. We need a group that can stand up to different special interest (cops,CSEA, fellow politicians who's budgets are bloated, etc.) and say enough we don't have the money.
Michael N. Hull September 29, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Supervisor Gromack reminds us that: "The Town of Clarkstown was named in CNN/Money Magazine’s Top 100 Places to Live in America". It's #35 in the list. What he doesn't say is that people don't seem to want to live in CNN/Money Magazine's Clarkstown utopia because: Clarkstown is named in the list of "Top 100 counties with the largest number of people moving OUT compared to moving IN (pop. 50,000+)" It's #10 in the list. http://www.city-data.com/city/Clarkstown-New-York.html Why are people moving OUT? - Taxes!   What taxes you might ask? Rockland County is #3 in the whole of the United States in median property taxes http://www.lohud.com/article/20120920/NEWS02/309200059/Westchester-leads-U-S-property-taxes-hits-10G-median-Rockland-ranks-No-3 6.2% more tax is now proposed - to drive more people out - to drive property values down - to be replaced by: "A Proposed Local Law entitled:  “A Local Law Amending Chapter 290 (Zoning) of the Local Laws of the Town of Clarkstown with Respect to Accessory Apartments." http://town.clarkstown.ny.us/cgi-bin/public_notices_new.pl?action=show_cat&id=13 so senior citizens can take in boarders to pay for their property taxes. 
John Taggart September 29, 2012 at 02:14 AM
The higher taxes do not drive property values down, higher taxes drive property values up, as long as people move in who can affored them. Its called tax out the rifraf...or middle class.. or working class... or anyone who dosen't pass up scale "hi class" muster.
Michael N. Hull September 29, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Hey John - I'm the guy running for the Village Idiot position - but you have just displaced me! Congratulations! I'll take that calculation to a bank next time I need a mortgage. Last time I was there I was told that one's maximum monthly payment of mortgage + taxes determines that maximum value of the property you can purchase. Please Mr Gromack raise my taxes, so some billionaire will come in and offer me a couple of million for my vinyl-sided box. Unfortunately, what is really going to happen is determined by demographics. I am more likely to get a knock on my door and there will be a guy standing there with a bag of cash and an offer I can't refuse.
Z September 29, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Just so sick of all this crap. People are suffering in Clarkstown as well as around the whole U.S. and you put a 6.2 percent increase on our taxes! Many are asked to take a freeze on our salaries for the next few years; yet, the Town of Clarkstown deems it o.k. to give us a 6.2 increase on our taxes while they should be cleaning up their own instead of giving our money to positions that are not needed. Stop the insanity! We cannot afford this anymore!!! We are suffering with no raises and less money coming in and, yet, it's o.k. for our town to hire more unnecessary people with our tax money.
Maureen September 29, 2012 at 03:01 AM
What do you mean 6.2%? It's closer to 7.5%! Have you all forgotten the surcharge of $1.5 million that was collected from you as a 'fee' to collect the school taxes? All of you will have paid that by September 30 when you paid your school taxes. Gromack even said that 'fee' was to give you tax relief on your town taxes. Well I have paid my 'fee' so if I add this dollar amount to 6.2% of what I paid last year in town taxes my net town tax bill went up 7.5% this year! Does the Supervisor think we are all running for the Village Idiot position? Taggart is in first place, Hull is in second, and I'm third!
Z September 29, 2012 at 03:01 AM
O.K. so how can the town can get through the cap of 2% without the residents voting. This is what I found on the New York State website. Is there anyone out there who can explain why Clarkstown can just go ahead and tax us 6.2% without a vote.: New York State has a new law capping annual increases in local government and school district property taxes. Effective in local fiscal years starting on or after Jan. 1, 2012, the law limits the annual growth of property taxes levied by local governments and school districts to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. The cap applies to all counties, cities, towns and villages outside New York City, and to all fiscally independent school districts. It also applies to the property tax levies of special districts established to finance fire departments, libraries, sewer and water systems and other purposes. Several important aspects of the new tax cap law may need to be clarified for many New Yorkers. For example: The cap is not absolute. School budgets can exceed the cap if approved by at least 60 percent of school district voters. Tax caps for counties, cities, towns, villages and special districts can be overridden by a vote of at least 60 percent of the local governing bodies.
Z September 29, 2012 at 03:01 AM
The annual cap in your community will seldom be exactly two percent. It could be lower if the rate of inflation has been below two percent, which was the case in several recent years. However, as explained in the following pages, the law also includes several exceptions and allowances that can make the cap higher. These factors will vary from year to year and will differ in each taxing jurisdiction. A simple majority of voters will now have the power to block any tax increase in independent school districts. Districts that fail to win voter approval for their proposed budgets after two tries must freeze their property tax levies.
Michael N. Hull September 29, 2012 at 09:55 AM
The article only made it to paragraph 2 before Orangetown was held up negatively as the comparative example with its proposed 9.2% tax hike. Well ok let's do a comparison - Orangetown has a population of 50,000 and is going down to 76 cops from 81 in their proposed 2013 budget.  Clarkstown has a population of 80,000 and 162 cops.  If you do the math, for Clarkstown to be on par with Orangetown, Clarkstown would have 122 cops.  That is a savings of $8 million.  Now the tax increase of 6.2% is less than 0.5%.  Add back the 1% tax surcharge that was placed on the school tax bill (which is actually higher than 1% when calculated on the Town tax as you point out) and one is still under 2%. Now, I am NOT suggesting that 40 police officers be laid off but the point is that there are numerous ways that the Town can critically examine ALL of  its EXPENSES as one would do in the business world.  I have just analyzed one line item here. The problem is not one of REVENUE it is one of EXPENSE.   Has the Town done a similar analysis to the above of EVERY line item of its proposed budget?  If it did, it did so behind closed doors because I have seen no such analysis.  What were the proposed options that were considered and rejected to arrive at the proposed budget numbers and a 6.2% Town tax rise added to a 1% 'surcharge' on the school tax bill?  Is the Town Board going to discuss the options it rejected in an open Town Board meeting on October 2?
John Taggart September 29, 2012 at 10:51 AM
hey Hull, so you do or don't believe high taxes in say,New City, drive out people who don't have the income to pay them? That was my point, that people grew up in New City and Clarkstown like myself and friends who dont make enough to pay 12,000 year in property tax wind up moving out. The people who move in can pay, the neighborhood becomes more affluent the values go up. Its been going on for a long time. You get rid of elderly and construction workers (even though unions backed Gromack 25 years ago I even stuffed envelops for him and now I watch the solar field go to an out of town nonunion out fit) and replace them with white collar people, school teachers, medical field people. Statistically maybe more people are moving out but I see very few empty houses sitting around in Clarkstown. So I put it to you Mr.Hull the taxes do not drive down the values taxes drive down the affordability
GWashington September 29, 2012 at 12:19 PM
The only people who get out to vote are the people eating from the public trough. Bankruptcy is the only option to renegotiate the contracts that are crippling this town.
Michael N. Hull September 29, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Thank you, John, for the clarification of your point which I now understand.   You are speaking of 'gentrification'.    Clearly, that is a process ongoing in many communities and I see a lot of that going on in Westport, Connecticut at the moment.  Homes are bought to be demolished and mega-mansions paying higher taxes go onto tiny lots. In my opinion Clarkstown is in the process of 'reverse gentrification' because of its demographics.  There is one population in the County whose birth rate tells one what the situation will be like in 20 years.  That population is not 'moving out' of Rockland but moving in Rockland.    Therefore we must control taxes so that those who wish to remain in Clarkstown and not be forced to sell their homes can do so.  Therein lies both the immorality of Clarkstown's proposed tax increase and the ineptitude of elected officials in this County to put its fiscal house in order. 
Brenda M September 29, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Maybe Clarkstown needs to go Camden's route.  That is where we are heading with Clarkstown's budget. In today's NY Times it says http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/29/nyregion/overrun-by-crime-camden-trades-in-its-police-force.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120929&_r=0 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/29/nyregion/overrun-by-crime-camden-trades-in-its-police-force.html?pagewanted=all Generous union contracts have made it financially impossible to keep enough officers on the street. So in November, Camden, which has already had substantial police layoffs, will begin terminating the remaining 273 officers and give control to a new county force. The move, officials say, will free up millions to hire a larger, nonunionized force of 400 officers to safeguard the city. “There’s no alternative, there’s no Plan B,” the City Council president, Frank Moran, said. “It’s the only option we have.” Faced with tight budgets, many communities across the country are considering regionalizing their police departments, along with other services like firefighting, libraries and schools.  What are we doing with Clarkstown police, Orangetown police, Ramapo police etc and a bunch of sheriffs and State police?  We can't afford this unionized, overstaffed and overpaid debacle. 
frankie g September 29, 2012 at 01:20 PM
So what we have hear is a new milestone by the gromack syndicate of raising our taxes over 30 % since he was appointed to office and placing the blame on others,for his offensive behavior Im sure This won't be a statistic he will keep repeating on the re-election trail and one that also contributes to pushing us to be named the 2nd highest taxed county
so lester ...what is your defense in regards to a part timer who makes 75,000 a year for 20 plus hours of work while his other job gives him the free bennies???? or the chief of cops who for managing 160 cops and makes over 250,000 a year while Kelly in NYC makes 20% less for managing close to 40,000 employees? or a clerk of the works who makes 160,000 while one of his underlings used town equipment to do activities that got him arrested??? and POINT of Info...we unlike NYC do not have dwellings that cost 15 to 100 million where the wealthy live in SAFETY while those in charge of their safety make a lot less then the mayberry PD here
In a recent blog, Clarkstown resident, M. Hull, studied the Clarkstown's police salaries, compared them to other towns and mused about how the salaries of our police officers are affecting Clarkstown's property taxes. In summary, he found that in 2009, the last year state wide data was available, the Clarkstown police department employed the FIRST, SECOND and FOURTH highest paid county and municipal employee in New York state. Moreover, the Clarkstown police department also had the highest average salary in New York state with a mean compensation of $148,000/yr and a mean salary of $115,000/yr, which is more than DOUBLE the average police salary of all police officers in the USA. For a full reading of Mr. Hull's analysis, please click on the Read More button below.
Clarkstown life September 29, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Howie, that is the most lucid thing you have copied in a long time
Clarkstown's Outrageous Police SalariesSubmitted by clarkstown1 on Tue, 05/08/2012 - 9:58amIn a recent blog, Clarkstown resident, M. Hull, studied the Clarkstown's police salaries, compared them to other towns and mused about how the salaries of our police officers are affecting Clarkstown's property taxes. In summary, he found that in 2009, the last year state wide data was available, the Clarkstown police department employed the FIRST, SECOND and FOURTH highest paid county and municipal employee in New York state. Moreover, the Clarkstown police department also had the highest average salary in New York state with a mean compensation of $148,000/yr and a mean salary of $115,000/yr, which is more than DOUBLE the average police salary of all police officers in the USA. For a full reading of Mr. Hull's analysis, please click on the Read More button below.
stephany September 29, 2012 at 03:40 PM
@ LH " Do you think crime is going to stop if there are less [edit-cops]? " Do you know it won't and I need specifics that apply to clarkstown please-no generalities keep reducing our inventory of cops till it affects quality of life or property values to an unacceptable degree. same for town and county workers. bring in an efficiency expert because Clarkstown is way inefficient
Boardwatcher September 29, 2012 at 05:34 PM
and in one of Clarkstown Police's best kept secrets.....how many policemen/women have gone out on disability or been "retired" in the past 20 years? Getting on the Clarkstown PD is akin to winning the lottery whether you work, "get injured" on the job or retired out for the injuries sustained on the job. One policewoman fell while undercover on the job, after just two weeks service and has been on the dole ever since. Simply ridiculous!
Bradley Jensen September 29, 2012 at 05:52 PM
The only way to solve this mess is to revolt. Who will lead they way? I'm right behind you, sick and tired of Gromack and Vanderhoef. I won't pay these taxes. Promise!
stephany September 29, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Boardwatcher google 207-c .. cops disability is like no other . you pay everything and they get cash I remember one cop who drove off the road upstate was on the force for 14yrs but worked about 5 of those years. he had just come off his second 207-c disability stint when he crashed. lucky he did not cause any civilian any injury while they were working because it is not the same disability. cops and paid firemen[207-a] get their salary in full and no tax+ all expenses and benefits paid. there was a local one that collected it for years because he tripped over a 2 by 4 when he was just walking..no chase just walking
Andromachos September 29, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Mr. Taggart, Mr. Hull - Take comfort in the fact that you are talking about two phenomena arising from the same causal factor. The only difference being the character of the external circumstances. If there is not a substantial market of buyers, the cost goes down. If there is a substantial market of buyers (with money to burn) the price goes up. The only result dependent on rising taxes is whether or not the seller must sell.
Rocklandman September 30, 2012 at 02:35 AM
When are these politicians gonna wake up!! 6.2% Town Increase, 17% Nanuet Schools Increase so in 1 year my taxes are going up 23.2%!!! Hey Gov. Cuomo you better start looking real hard at this area!!! We aren't gonna take this any longer!! How do you expect hard working people to afford putting a roof over the heads of our loved ones!! No wonder the economy is the the Toilet!! We can't afford to do things with our families, ie: Movies, Eating out, Bowling, Shopping!!! Should I go on. You keep raising our taxes and we just struggle more & more just to try to keep the homes we are living in now. Please give us a break!!! I don't see anyone in this county receiving yearly raises of 6.2% or 17%, so where is this money supposed to come from? I know next time I will pull it out of my !!!!!! Wake up people before they tax us out of here!!!!!!!
Geri September 30, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you. The Hasidic community has gotten enough!!!
I suggest every single homeowner seek alternative gas and electric suppliers!!WHY? because you will pay NO TAX for the fuel portion of your bill!!!!!!check into it people it adds ups up!!!!!!!!!
after viewing many pictures taken...the reality is what can expect from those who dont understand what "Reducing is Albout"
allan erps September 30, 2012 at 01:59 PM
After Nanuet School Taxes have jumped almost 20% THIS YEAR ALONE, Mr. Gromack & Vanderhoef should look into a mirror. The mirror said that you could never ever recieve my vote! It does not take that much knowledge to understand this poorly run county needs less government, less school districts, police departments, etc. Shame on all of you as the second year of a 2% cap increase has become a joke!!!
Tony B October 01, 2012 at 05:18 PM
If the town has done an analysis of all expenses, it should be made available to the public to see where the town has cut costs. I'm sure all residents would like to see where the government has tried, if at all. Not by just saying it. Line by line on a list.. how much was cut if any for each item. They need to look deeper. Like most companies have done in the last 4 years or so, trim the fat. Do a labor analysis. Keep only what is truly needed.

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