Dear Editor and Fellow Clarkstown Taxpayers:
On Thursday, November 08, 2012 at 7:00 P.M. the Town Board of Clarkstown will hold a public meeting to present its 2013 budget. The meeting will be held in the Auditorium of the Clarkstown Town Hall.
The proposed budget deserves to be called a “Business-As-Usual Budget.”
Look for yourself:
Notice how much of the 2013 budget is in line with the budget figures for 2011 and 2012. The proposed 2013 budget is a “Business-As-Usual Budget” with added costs transferred by the County to the Town simply added on to the top.
Who in Clarkstown thinks that it is time for a “Business-As-Usual Budget”? The proposed budget breaks the Tax Cap, raids the Reserve Fund, and increases our tax bill more than any increase most of us can expect to receive in 2013 in our income or pension. Indeed, our senior citizens will receive only a 1.8% increase in social security payments in 2013.
The taxpayers of Clarkstown need a serious discussion about trade-offs between taxes and services. What could be trimmed from the budget and at what cost? What would it take to keep the budget under the Tax Cap? Perhaps there are areas of the budget that could be cut with minimal effects on services?
I have read the following articles with interest and have found them to be useful in raising my understanding of what questions we need our local government to answer before it votes to raise the town's taxes by any amount over the Tax Cap.
As many of you know, I have repeatedly urged the Town Board to conduct their deliberations in public as is required by the Open Meetings Law. The budget for 2013 needs careful deliberation, yet the agenda for Thursday’s Public Hearing and the following Town Board Meeting indicates a time for us to speak and a vote. I urge you to come, listen, and demand that Town Board talk about what it is deciding. If a vote is taken without deliberation, you will know that you have been cheated of the promises in the Open Meetings Law – that the Town Board has violated your trust by deliberating in secret. Let us watch carefully the actions of our Town Board.
I want to see the Town Board deliberate about cuts in the budget and I want to hear from each Town Board member about what ways we could get the budget down below the Tax Cap. The Town Board needs to discard the proposed “Business-As-Usual Budget” and bring us a budget that makes fiscal sense. Discard the “Business-As-Usual” attitude and show us leadership in dealing with tough times.
I hope that despite the hardships we have all gone through this past week with Hurricane Sandy the citizens of Clarkstown will take time to come to the Town Board meeting on Thursday at 7:00 P.M. and ask the Board to stop the increases in taxation that have placed this county among the three highest taxed counties in the whole United States.