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.