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Clarkstown Approves Tax Cap Override, 2013 Budget

Board voted unanimously to exceed two percent tax cap and adopted budget with 6.2 percent tax increase

 

The Clarkstown Town Board unanimously voted on Thursday night to override the state’s two percent state property tax cap and also to put into place the 2013 budget of  $137,301,805. The budget for the coming year increases taxes by 6.2 percent. The average dollar amount per homeowner for the increase is $199.30.

During two hours of public hearings, Clarkstown residents made suggestions for budget cuts, asked for line-by-line explanations and criticized the amount of the increase. 

Tom Nimick of New City went through parts of the budget questioning increases and what certain line items actually covered. He requested specifics about salaries in the highway department and for the public works administrator and about savings from the town garage consolidation. 

When he commented, “The costs for the attorney’s office are quite high,” Town Attorney Amy Mele responded, “The current situation is we run as lean as we can run.” 

Bardonia Resident Michael Hull wanted to know how the town justified a 6.2 percent tax increase when Social Security payments were only rising by 1.8 percent next year.  He suggested that the town ask the police department to give back some of its recent salary increases and also consider layoffs as a way to get the unions to accept lower wages.

Joe Ciardullo said the town should operate more like a business and learn to work with limited funds. 

“Government can just go to the taxpayers and say we want more money,” he said. “These proposed increases, I don’t see any end in sight.”

Town Supervisor Alex Gromack said over the past three years most of the department heads have been told to make five percent cuts in their budgets.  

Council member George Hoehmann acknowledged the 6.2 increase was significant and said the town is continuing to look at ways to save including private-public partnerships.

“It just seems we as citizens can no longer live here,” said Tom Leonard of Congers. “The salaries that we pay people to do common tasks that do not require degrees are very high.”

Gromack attributed much of the budget increase to Rockland County’s transfer of costs for the Board of Elections, mosquito control, Rockland Community College tuition chargebacks and police officers, whose salaries had been reimbursed by the county. He explained about four percent of the tax increase was due to the transfer of expenses by the county.

“Primarily we were able to get ourselves to the two percent tax cap if it weren’t for the costs that the county legislature and executive government has shifted to the towns,” said Gromack. “If these costs weren’t shifted to the back of our town residents we were in line to have a budget that was under the cap.” 

Gromack said state required pension and health care benefits accounted for the largest increases in the budget aside from the county’s transfers. 

Bradley Jensen November 09, 2012 at 03:35 PM
No way! Time for revolt. File for bankruptcy. This cannot continue - people are hurting.
stephany November 09, 2012 at 04:59 PM
was there ever a question ?
Kim Tran November 09, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Just added this to this article: The average dollar amount per homeowner for the 6.2% increase is $199.30
Michael Gardocki November 09, 2012 at 08:33 PM
The second my kids are out of high school I am out of Clarkstown, probably Rockland and maybe NY. Bad financial decision to move here 5 years ago.
Kevin Roy November 09, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Does anyone know when Gromack is up for reelection? We need a candidate that is not a member of the political "groupies" in Rockland/Clarkstown to takeover and run this town like a business. I always read about Gromack pointing the finger at someone else and blaming them for our problems. For example, I took offense to his email last Friday, "Gromack Blasts O&R and Provides Update 11/2/2012". While O&R certainly needs to make changes, I found it unproductive to send this out when resources could be dedicated to finding solutions and helping those affected by the storm. Further, he writes about how "storm after storm and year after year..." O&R has failed. Well, Mr. Gromack, what have you done to make them accountable? Apparently nothing since they keep doing the same thing. Wait, that must be someone else's problem...
Kevin Roy November 09, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Mary, that's the "Expense Total" for all line items in the "General Fund". Debt Service total is $14,530,475
stephany November 09, 2012 at 09:25 PM
sadly he just got re elected for the first time last year, never really had an opponent before last election, compliments of vinnie reda of course.
stephany November 09, 2012 at 09:28 PM
the people of clarkstown should demand an internal investigation by special independent counsel into the practices of clarkstown govt. i am not kidding
Mike Hirsch November 09, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Sorry to disappoint you RJ, but our government does get it. What they get is that most citizens are not informed and those who even bother to vote, simply vote the party line. As long as the party lines are in the control of the professional politicians, they will continue to get re-elected. It is all about their jobs and benefits, and those of their supporters. They don't care about people who are either too lazy or too busy to oppose them.
Black Friday will be the NEW TAXPAYER DAY OF RECOGNITION!!!!!!!!!!!!
maybe just maybe the stores will give bigger discounts to attract the shoppers afterwards
Michael N. Hull November 09, 2012 at 10:20 PM
I have written two articles about Gromack's behavior over police costs which he called "obscene" when he first took office and blamed the 'obscenity' on his predecessor. http://newcity.patch.com/blog_posts/the-joke-is-on-you http://newcity.patch.com/blog_posts/two-jokes-one-humorous-one-laughable Last night in the presence of the PBA I asked if the PBA would give back the 2.5% annual raises the police had been given by Gromack for the next five years to help reduce the pain of the 6.2% tax burden on senior citizens who would get only a 1.8% increase in social security next year. My request was met by silence from both the PBA representative and by Mr Gromack. Remember the movie 'Wall Street' and this exchange? Bud Fox: "How much is enough"? Gordon Gekko: "It's not a question of enough, pal. It's a zero sum game, somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn't lost or made, it's simply transferred from one perception to another - Greed, for lack of a better word, is good" Mr Gromack has been very successful in transferring "obscene" amounts of taxpayers' money into the hands of the best paid police force in the USA and into the hands of political operatives such as Frank Sparaco and Jay Savino. He blamed his predecessor. Now he blames the County for transferring costs to the Town as if it matters to any taxpayer who sends them the bill. Give the guy credit for two things - handing out blame and handing out patronage.
Tom Nimick November 09, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Just for the record, it was I who went through the budget and asked questions, not an unknown "Tim". Unfortunately Robin Traum was not there for the vote on breaking the Tax Cap. when I asked if any measures had been taken since it became clear that county costs would be transferred to the Town. Mr. Gromack listed measures taken before, but no measures taken in response to the transfer of costs. That is why I wrote earlier about the "Business-As-Usual Budget." In response to my question, no Board Member mentioned any attempt to keep the budget within the Tax Cap. Also, the leaders of the Town chose not to acknowledge that pensions had been underfunded in previous years. Instead they took the state's artificially low figures and used them to deliver lower budgets without reducing other costs instead of setting up a reserve for the obvious higher rates that any thinking person knew were coming. This year the higher rates came and whatever reserves might have been prepared were already spent. This is not arbitrary mandate from the state - this is fiscal mismanagement in the Town. Finally Mr. Gromack and Ms. Lasker talked about the low tax increases and how low the average is. That is the wrong figure to examine. The real question was the rate of budget increase - the Town has been running deficit budgets acrss those years - living off the reserve fund, our tax stabilization fund. No layoffs, no salary freezes, protected patronage positions - Business As Usual - it stinks.
frankie g November 09, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Hey, Kim that's nice to know $199.00 avg increase in tax. Well its a whole days pay for some of us,for a clarkstown cop it,s only an hour of overtime No big deal for some Career Polittian Gromack needs to stop blowing out of proportion the blame for this insane increase on the county The fault lies squarely on his and his town board member drones for handing out exhorbitant salary and benefit increases without any concessions its laughable,when he blames the pension cost payments as a burden,while at the same time hes creating more 1/4 million salaried employees What do you expect in future pension payments for these actions....Bankruptcy They are following the same fiscal plan as the county and are near the $ 100 mil debt,like their same deficient counterparts,who can't spend our money fast enough already, and none of them express any concern
Tom Truth November 09, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Why would anyone want to run when the people here have all the solutions to every problem we face? Maybe one of you who keeps complaining about everything should bite the bullet and run against Gromack. Do you have any idea how much money, time and effort it takes to unseat someone like Gromack? Where are you finding this magical non-political groupie to champion your cause? Furthermore, what would you suggest a local politician do to make O&R or any other utility accountable? Gromack has no power over O&R. He and other politicians have publicly voiced their displeasure with how the storm was handled, and continue to try to advocate for their constituents who are suffering without power. But what would you suggest he do to "make" them repair things faster?
Z November 10, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Last year, I did not vote for Gromack but so many did. C'mon people, take a look at what he said before the election last November 2011 and look at what he is doing now. "Clarkstown has been repeatedly rated as one of the 100 best places to live in the U.S. and one of the safest Towns in the nation. I have created a $15 million tax stabilization fund, earned the Town a AAA Bond rating from Standard and Poor’s, saving millions in interest charges, and kept our property tax rate below 2% for three years (1.6% in 2010, 0% in 2011 and proposed .8% in 2012). In fact, the 2012 budget fell below the Governor's mandated 2% tax cap despite the many challenges and increasing costs the Town is facing. Other municipalities across the county, state and nation have been forced to significantly raise property taxes and make drastic cuts in services to residents. However, as Supervisor I have been able, through sound and financial management, government consolidation and responsible job attrition, to maintain Clarkstown's quality services to residents while stabilizing property taxes." Now that he was reelected he puts this burden on the taxpayers. Shame on you, Mr. Gromack and the whole board!
I suggested before but the editor left it out was a protest of the taxpayers boycotting the mall on friday to show the country we mean business...
Michael N. Hull November 10, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Kim The Town has given a 2.5% increase for the next 5 years to the highest paid police force in the United States where the average salary is close to $180,000 per year, while adding a 6.2% tax increase on to the backs of senior citizens who will see only a 1.8% increase in social security next year. The PBA has been offered the opportunity to give something back and has remained silent. The Town has been asked to cut each department's budget by 5% in 2013 and has refused. All anticipated raises for town employees in 2013 will be given and all political patronage appointments will remain - particularly those of the Head of the Bronx GOP, Jay Savino, who is paid $87,000 for tax cert work, and County Legislator and Head of the Minority Party in the County Legislature, Frank Sparaco, who earns $75,000 for 25 hours a week of part time work answering telephone calls for Wayne Ballard, Superintendent of Highways. The Town also fails to recognize the fact that from the point of view of the property owner it doesn't matter whether the County or the Town sends out the tax bill - it is the same group of people who are paying for out of control spending by both the Town and County and it is the Town and County politicians who are driving home prices down by putting property taxes to a level that young families can no longer afford to purchase a home in Rockland County.
Pat Godfrey November 10, 2012 at 01:44 PM
We now see the corruption and crony capitalism and greed exercised by the board. Basically they have no fear of the clarkstown citizen. Why? Gromack and the political class of Rockland have insulated themselves from the will of the people. They have rigged the system where it is very difficult to unseat an incumbant. So he and the board do whatever they want with little fear of getting voted out. Unfortunatly it took years to get here (where the clarkstown citizen has little say in his own town politically). So now to those who love their country and the town of clarkstown is the long and arduos journey of having an influence in clarkstown politics, and holding politicians accountable. Are you up for it, or will you just move somewhere else? Will you get involved or just say it is to corrupt and stay home?
Helene Feigelman November 10, 2012 at 01:47 PM
I totally agree with you BJ. These people are nuts. I know my family can't afford another increase. HF
Pat Godfrey November 10, 2012 at 02:23 PM
The idea that there is a political class in America goes against what being an American is. We are a government of the people, by the people, for the people. These new politicians that are in power now have no consideration of the people, it is only about their own power(How? doing a favor for their friends so it will be given back to them, favors later on). It is also about them making more money (by way of jobs,latest example is Frank Sparoco getting paid $75000 for a part time job in the Highway department). This type of thing goes on in 3rd world countries, not the greatest country in the world. In a state where we are taxed highest in the country we have had 2 articles in the last few years about Clarkstown extravagant spending on town salaries (NY Times, Gannett newspaper). So the new reality is we have a political class that takes our money at will (taxes), and has no regard for our feelings or views on a given matter. This new political class is the politicians, government workers, unions, teachers, and businesses that sell their product or service to the government. So that is how we are losing our freedoms, the new political class. They rule us and we have no say on what they do. This is the exact opposite of what our government was or is supposed to be.
Pat Godfrey November 10, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Tom I guess because it is hard to unseat Gromack we shouldn't bother. Let him raise our taxes do whatever he wants and just take it. That's not what made our country great, no matter the difficulty of the situation we (Americans) take it on and win. Eventually we will unseat Gromack because tyranny in any form does not stay in power long in the greatest country in the world.
as I staed yesterday..a very easy way to show that the taxpayers have had it is to "not shop in stores on Friday after thanksgiving!!!!it wont hurt anyone as over the next 4 weeks after Balc Friay they will make up the lost sales...BUT AT LEAST LET OUR POLITICIANS KNOW WE STAND TOGETHER..this is a very simple protest...and it sends a message we want to conserve our money!!!!
stephany November 10, 2012 at 07:46 PM
you got it. there is no bigger conflict of interest than the one that exists between the ones with the money, we are forced to give them aka "taxes", and those who want it [government workers, unions, teachers, and businesses that sell their product or service to the government to name just a few. buying votes is somehow not illegal in clarkstown
Lynn Teger November 11, 2012 at 12:28 PM
All towns, except for Stony Point, are raising taxes well above the 2% tax cap: Haverstraw approximately 9%; Orangetown: 9%, Ramapo 9%, Clarkstown 6.2% and Stony Point about 2%. For those of you concerned about taxes, please see the additional taxes that the middle class and small businesses will have to bear in January 2013. Anyone interested in discussing this with me, please give me a call at 845-709-0929. http://www.atr.org/full-list-obamacare-tax-hikes-a6996
Michael N. Hull November 11, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Lynn: Thanks for the invitation but no thanks. Check your facts - Orangetown is likely to come in at 6% or less as they are making an attempt to make cuts. Clarkstown is at 9% when you factor in the 1% surcharge that was placed on the school taxes and the $2 Million that it is taking out of the reserve fund. There will be no cuts. The Journal News reported that the school surcharge showed up as a 'cost' on the school bill but the money will be 'savings' for the Town that will allow the Town to lower the tax rate for the 2013 budget. Supervisor Gromack's fiscal analysis in his own words went like this: "The $1.5 million raised from the school tax fee would not be a burden on taxpayers because the town would end up lowering town taxes for the coming year. In other words, while the school taxes would increase, homeowners’ share of town taxes would decrease. A $1.5 million increase in revenue would allow the town to lower its tax rate by 2 percent. This is money that is coming from town residents and going back to town residents in tax relief.” Still scratching my head trying to understand this analysis, in an issue of Our Town Mr. Gromack further declared: "The surcharge does not affect the school districts' tax levy, their bottom line, their tax cap or the residents' tax rate. Its a charge to the residents ....." Gromack is so 'clever' that I don't understand a single word of what he says. http://nanuet.patch.com/d/blog_posts/nanuets-nightmares
Kevin Roy November 12, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Gromack received 11,205 votes while Sabatini received 6,453 votes last election. With 80k+ people in Clarkstown, I think there will be plenty of people tired of the lies and will vote for change. You could set-up a kiosk at the mall and handout fact sheets about Gromack's record and probably get enough votes. Also, O&R/ConEd are regulated utilities. The way you influence them is through the NYPSC. Gromack knows this and cited it in his statement. The problem is with the Mgmt not the employees on the ground. They were working 18-hr shifts the last two weeks. Mgmt was not prepared for this storm and couldn't manage the resources they were given by other utilities.
just read this...see in NYC cops get involved with real people! Larry DePrimo, NYPD Cop, Buys Homeless Man Boots . have to like what NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo did for a barefoot man in Manhattan one frigid night this month. In fact, more than 260,000 Facebook users have "liked" DePrimo's actions, a number that's growing every day. After a tourist from Arizona snapped a photo of DePrimo, of Holbrook, giving the man socks and boots to ward off the cold, the image became an instant hit on the NYPD's Facebook page. "I had two pairs of wool winter socks and combat boots, and I was cold," DePrimo, 25, said Wednesday, recalling the night of Nov. 14, when he encountered an unidentified, shoeless man on the sidewalk on Seventh Avenue near 44th Street. DePrimo offered to get him socks and shoes "I never had a pair of shoes," the man replied, according to DePrimo, who's assigned to the Sixth Precinct and has been on the force nearly three years The officer walked to a Skechers store on 42nd Street and shelled out $75 for insulated winter boots and thermal socks. He returned to the man, knelt down and put the footwear on him "He smiled from ear to ear," DePrimo said. "It was like you gave him a million dollars." The officer asked the man if he wanted a cup of coffee, but he graciously declined and went on his way. "I didn't think anything of it," DePrimo said of his generosity. But during dinner that night, he got a text message from a friend. The photo had gone viral.
and nyc cops dont make the outragous salaries that we in this county have been impacted with!!!!seems police in nyc will go out of their way to actually help others..and not demand raises like here
Sharon April 29, 2013 at 03:33 PM
Vote them all OUT!!! Why don't government workers have 401K plans, like the rest of america? Times, they are a changing, and if we don't adapt we'll die, or at least our town will.

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