No Attempt to Meet the Tax Cap for 2013

No discussion of possible cuts to stay under two percent tax cap

Dear Editor and Fellow Clarkstown Taxpayers:

On Thursday, November 08, 2012 the Town Board held a Public Hearing on their motion to break the Tax Cap. I asked for the measures they had considered to keep within the Tax Cap. Mr. Gromack listed measures taken over the years, but nothing focused on avoiding breaking of the Tax Cap. So I asked again for measures specifically focused on avoiding breaking the Tax Cap. The response: Nothing.

The key question is: once the transfer of costs from the County to the Town became clear, what actions did the Town Board consider to prevent those costs from breaking the Tax Cap? The answer: No measures were considered. 

So you need to know that your Town Board decided that it would just allow the Tax Cap to be broken – they did not even consider measures to address it.

Before the meeting I sent the Town Board a request that they discuss cuts needed to keep within the Tax Cap and what services would be lost. The result: No discussion.

The Town Board hopes that your anger at the tax increase will focus on the County and the State. Are you aware that the County is responsible for only part of the increase? The rest is fiscal mismanagement by the Town Board. 

The issue is employee benefits, particularly pensions. For several years the State set the rate of contributions to pensions artificially low. Everyone knew that they were too low and that they would result in significant increases in later years. The appropriate measure was to set aside additional money towards pensions in a reserve fund – that reflected the actual cost of the pensions.

The Town Board did not do that – they paid at the artificially low rate and then irresponsibly claimed that they were holding down costs. This year the higher rates arrived – they want to blame the State. The real culprit for that increase is the fiscal irresponsibility of the Town Board in previous years. These were the “unfunded liabilities” about which they have been refusing to answer questions. 

So when you open your Tax Bill in January and are angry with the increase, focus the anger where it belongs – partly on the County, but mostly on the Town Board. The members of the Town Board chose to continue with their “Business-As-Usual Budget” and they are responsible for fiscal mismanagement.

Tom Nimick
New City


Michael N. Hull November 14, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Clarkstown has been running at a loss since at least 2008 and this is continuing in the present proposed budget for 2013 where an amount of $2 million is to be withdrawn from the Town's Reserve Fund. What is troubling is that Clarkstown is adopting deficit budgets every year. Clarkstown's budget is not in balance! It is using the reserve fund to meet expenses. In 2009, Clarkstown negotiated the sale of its Solid Waste Transfer Station and established a ‘Tax Stabilization Fund’ with the proceeds which it added to its existing reserve fund of $7 Million. That fund is being depleted at an alarming rate. The unfunded OPEB (Other than Pension post Employment Benefits) retirement and health insurance benefits of Clarkstown as of 2011 stand at $157 Million and are rising. That number was $133 Million in 2009 - up by $24 Million in three years. The unfunded vacation and sick time buyback is over $4 Million. Clarkstown's bonded debt is about $95 Million and there was another $23 Million authorized but not sold through 12/31/11. Add these two figures together and one is looking at a figure of over $118 Million in bond debt. Clarkstown continues to tout its AAA bond rating - its license to go into more debt. As a taxpayer I will be asked to pay a share of these bills. The County's credit card is maxed out and no more charges can be put on it - the Town's credit card is in the process of being maxed out.
Mr.Hull you are so correct and observant..the trouble we the real people and taxpayers have is the fact"they the clowns dont care" they know after a few weeks of complaining they will escape the attention...BUT in the future when the money to borrow isnt there...chapter 9 will become a reality...maybe now their answer when pressured is"lets go out to eat" seems no food shortages on maple ave...they think running in the red is allowed..but what they dont realize is"new homebuyers avoid rockland now" and older ones are leaving...time will tell....they even used to pay a town clerk 120,000 plus? and look where he is now....part timers at 75,000 make this area look like a clowntown
Michael N. Hull November 15, 2012 at 11:31 AM
The Journal News stated that: Patronage is an institution in Clarkstown. The town’s clerk of the works, Ed Lettre, executive director of the Rockland Conservative Party, is paid $169,000 a year. Mary Loeffler, chair of the Rockland Conservative Party, retired as Clarkstown’s personnel director, at $134,200. She then worked part time for the town, for $50 an hour, for about six months after her retirement. Then there’s former deputy town attorney Marsha Coopersmith, who earned $126,590, plus benefits. She controlled the Independence Party until 2010. Then, a Sparaco-led effort wrested control of the local party and landed Sparaco’s mother-in-law, Debra Ortutay, in the chairmanship. However, Independence Party leadership is now up in the air. Ortutay was sentenced in February to four months in jail after pleading guilty to forgery and perjury charges. The improprieties involved the signing of petitions for the party’s ballot line during the Assembly race between her son-in-law and Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, a Democrat. (Sparaco, by the way, accused Zebrowski, whose late father had held the Assembly seat, of being a do-little insider politician.) Ortutay’s attorney was Jay Savino, chairman of the Bronx Republican Party. Savino was hired by Clarkstown in January for $87,000 a year to handle its tax certiorari filings. The extra help was needed, town officials said, after Coopersmith’s position was eliminated. You pay - they play.
steve November 15, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Clarkstown must stop spendind funds that they do not have. They are chasing people out the area. Our officials thru their tax policy will in the near term will lessen the value of the houses in Clarkstown. Its time an independent accountant ( not appointed by the town ) to look at the books. He can start with Pensions & overtimes which help build up these pensions
VinnyfromCongers November 15, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Don't forget the cost of incompetence. How much was the cleanup of the lead contamination? 2 million? How about the emergency generator burning out at the police station? Faulty maintenance?? Congers ambulance building done yet? It's easy to say you saved money. Just don't finish the building.
steve November 15, 2012 at 01:23 PM
I agree with all Vinny says


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