The following letter by Trustee Bob Anderson has been sent to the Gazette.
To the Editor,
Last November, when I took office as a newly-elected Trustee, I had hoped the members of the Board of Trustees would be able to move the village forward in a non partisan manner. It is becoming increasingly apparent, however, that the opposition is significantly embittered after losing their monopoly control of the board, and that they and their supporters will be making every possible attempt to introduce partisanship into local issues.
The Croton Dems’ latest effort to obfuscate and mislead is to imply that by voting to issue village bonds recently, the Board majority has broken its campaign promises about village debt. This is ridiculous. Our campaign repeatedly stated that the prudent use of bonds was a fiscal policy that we encouraged; our criticism was directed at the imprudent manner in which the former administration used this financial tool.
Contrary to the statements made in last week’s letters to the Gazette, the $8 million dollars in bonds that were recently approved were not “new”. These bonds were approved as part of the Wiegman administration’s final capital budget, which actually approved the issuance of over $11 million in new borrowing. Since taking office, the new board majority has worked assiduously to reduce that amount by eliminating spending that we felt was wasteful, irresponsible or simply not an urgent enough priority to justify the accumulation of additional bond debt. Unfortunately, the casual resort to the use of debt to plug holes in the budget by the prior administration has made these tough decisions necessary now.
This is a serious and urgent issue. The latest report provided to the Village by its auditors stated that the village’s current debt load is double what it should be. The bonds that we did agree to issue will fund projects that provide high value to the village, such as water main replacements, improvements to the waterfront, well field improvements and urgently-needed public works projects.
One item that we eliminated from the current bonding was the purchase of a new firetruck for $650,000.00. There were good reasons for this. The Croton Volunteer Fire Department is one of the best equipped in the county. The apparatus are well maintained and we have great volunteers. The redundancy we have among our five village fire companies and our additional mutual aid arrangements puts us in good stead.
We do not believe the village can prioritize the purchase of a new rescue vehicle at this time; however, by working with the village staff and our knowledgeable volunteers, we have found other ways to address the issues with this apparatus while maintaining our firefighting capabilities. I have spent a great deal of time discussing this matter with the Fire Chief and with the Village’s Emergency Services Director, as well as our mechanics and our volunteer firefighters.
To imply that public safety is at risk is simply not true. To do so for partisan political purposes is simply wrong.
Hopefully, as we move on to the critical issue of consideration of the village budget, all members of the board will commit to working together to make tough but prudent decisions in a nonpartisan manner, and in doing so, serve the best interests of all residents.