Orangetown: 2013 Budget Under Tax Cap

Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart and Councilmen Tom Diviny, Denis Troy, Paul Valentine and Tom Morr presented different accounts of how the council reached the budget, which includes an increase that comes in below the state's 2% tax cap.

Nearly one week after adopting its 2013 budget, the Orangetown Council announced Monday that it is actually under the state-mandated two percent tax cap.

Though the official operating budget for Orangetown will increase by 4.66 percent, the tax levy increase as measured by the state is an average of 1.66% for Orangetown residents. 

"It's complicated," said Orangetown Director of Finance Jeff Bencik. "It will be different based on where (in Orangetown) you live and what services you get."

The night the budget passed, the tax increase over 2012 was listed as approximately 4.9%.

Upon closer review of those numbers, said the number, which represents the operational budget for the town, came to 4.66 percent. That number does not account for exceptions mandated by the state in how the cap is calculated. 

Orangetown Councilmen Tom Diviny, Denis Troy, Paul Valentine and Tom Morr released a statement regarding the budget Monday. Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart said that the statement misrepresented the budget process.

"I’m thrilled we’re under the two percent cap," Stewart said. "It’s preposterous for four members of the town council to characterize our final budget as anything other than a collaborative project, which I worked on from the beginning to the very end. I hired the finance director who brought it to the finish line. I supervised the finance department. I did an analysis of al of the cost-cutting ideas. I eliminated ones that made no sense and were hurtful to the town, like announcing we are closing the sewer department.

"To tell the story as if I had no part in it is clearly a politically motivated, underhanded and vicious attack."

The following is the statement from Diviny, Troy, Valentine and Morr:

It is with great pride and a sense of acccomplishment that we are able to announce that the Orangetown Town Budget will be under the 2% state mandated tax cap for the budget year 2013.

Please remember that when the 2013 Budget was first discussed, the Supervisor's office spoke of a possible 15% tax increase. Please also remember that the Supervisor's initla budget was submitted with a 9.2% tax increase.

Through hard work and the desire to meet our mandate, keeping taxes low, we tightened the belt on spending and cut capital expenditures and were able to come in below the State mandated 2% tax cap. This was accomplished in spite of the county charge backs for services, the Pfizer tax settlement and Clarkstown land fill settlement.

We ask you to keep in mind that although the town budget is under the state mandated 2% tax cap, it does not necessarily mean that your tax rate increase will be less than 2%. It could be lower or higher depending on where you live in the town. 

We realize that the budget is not perfect and services have been impacted. The town will need to do more with less. 

To get where we are today, sacrifices were made and we will continue to make such sacrifides to keep Orangetown affordable.

The budget process is a team effort. We did not work alone and we wish to acknowledge the department heads and town employees who worked hard to meet the goal of keeping the budget below the tax cap.

Times are tough and we will do what is needed to help the residents of the Town of Orangetown.

Hoping for a better year in 2013.

Very truly yours:

Orangetown Town Board Members

Thomas F. Diviny

Thomas Morr

Denis Troy

Paul Valentine

Editor's Note: This post was upated with comments from Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart. Check back with Patch for more on the 2013 budget. 

Tom Diviny November 20, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Andy: Please get real. You presented your Supervisor's budget with a 9.2% tax increase and thought you had done a great job. After your presentation, the rest of the Board came up with ways to cut the budget including cutting capital expenditures, working with department heads to come up with savings to avoid layoffs and reducing library funding since the libraries have adequate fund balance to continue to fund their services. As I stated last Tuesday, the Town should not be running Broadacres and an RFP for the sale or lease will go out January 1, 2013. As I also said that night, no businessman would close his business while attempting to lease or sell, you are only bidding against yourself. As for the police contract, you act as though arbitration is the great salvation. Historically speaking, Orangetown and the rest of the County do not do well in arbitration. As for the three hires for the police department , we are down 10 police officers since I was elected in 2009. 2-3 more officers will retire in 2013. There is just so much you can cut before it impacts public safety. However, you did vote to hire a second captain at a higher salary when the number of cops on the streets have been greatly reduced. I am glad you give the rest of the Board credit in your recent post, we did not get any recognition in the November 2012 Nyack Villager article whereby you take all credit for reducing the budget. An underhanded and vicious attack? Councilman Diviny
Mike Hirsch November 20, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Keep up the good work Andy. You give us hope.
Randy November 20, 2012 at 03:14 AM
I would like to see the calculations that show a 4.66% increase meets the tax cap. Andy - You did initially propose a 9.19% tax increase which shows a lack of concern for the taxpayer or unwillingness to lead and make the hard choices to meet the 2% tax cap. You also proposed closing Broadacres but not laying off the employees who work there. That proposal would likely have cost more than just keeping it open. The Board - You all voted to give the Police a very generous 5 year contract with salary increases that exceed 2% each year and also to allow exceeding the 2% tax cap. You did manage to keep the tax increase with the exceptions allowed by the state within the 2% requirement. Still, there has been no public discussion of layoffs of employees. Orangetown is going into negotiations with the CSEA with one hand tied behind their back just like with the Police Union. A tough position is needed by the town for negotiation with the CSEA as they are not going to give in without being presented with some tough alternatives. Andy and the Board - Orangetown needs all of you to work together and to control and cut costs throughout this year to stay within the tax cap next year. Let's see how you do.
Ryan Buncher November 20, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Randy, it is a good question and I'll be writing more about this tomorrow, but basically it the 4.66% is the operational budget increase and the 1.66% is based on how the state calculates the increase for the purpose of the tax cap. It is not a firm two percent limit. There are exceptions that may be in the budget, but do not count against the cap.
Siobhan November 20, 2012 at 04:52 AM
This is Diviny nonsense! Orangetown is not under the tax cap! Four people voted to remove $1.75 million from the town's reserve fund and pretend it is income. Do the math! On a $62.9 million budget that is 2.8%. The four were Diviny, Troy, Valentine and Morr! Stewart voted no. That $1.75 million has to be replaced in a future budget which means that the four people who voted to remove the money did so to lower the town tax by 2.8% this year and kick the can down the road. Without fiddling the books in this way the true tax increase is 4.66% plus 2.8% (deferred until tomorrow) which equals 7.5%. Councilman Diviny, it is you who needs to get real. You and the other three mathematical geniuses may be able to write self-serving statements about the tax cap but you can't read a financial statement. I can and I do! Stop with the budgetary smoke and mirrors and as Randy says "show us the calculations, and work together". We will figure out how you are doing ourselves come election time. Right now I have given you a C+. As to the town employees who worked hard to help you get below your mythical tax cap, does that include the PBA from which you ran from negotiation and handed them an automatic five year annual increase while Stewart voted to go talk to them and see if they would demonstrate less greed and more sympathy for the taxpayers of Orangetown?


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