Croton residents pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation. We all know people who have left the village, or are planning to leave, because they can no longer afford to live here. Many others, especially our seniors, are struggling to make ends meet as the effects of the Great Recession linger on. Unfortunately, despite these stark realities, the current Village Board acts as if it has an unlimited source of funds to pursue projects that are of questionable value or that we simply cannot afford. When it approved the current year’s village budget, the Board exceeded the state-imposed tax levy cap, and additionally projected difficulty in not exceeding the cap again next year. This cannot continue.
We pledge to return fiscal responsibility to Croton village government. To accomplish this, we will prioritize all proposed projects and programs and only authorize those that we can reasonably afford at any one time. We understand that we cannot always do everything we would like to all at once. For every significant new project and program, we will perform a comprehensive, honest and accurate cost-benefit analysis, giving appropriate weight to both tangible and intangible benefits of any particular project. We will review all budget proposals with an experienced CPA’s eye to eliminate unnecessary spending, improve efficiency, consolidate functions where applicable, and ensure the tax-levy cap is met and that Croton residents receive their state rebates. After all, we recognize that village funds are your money, not that of the Village Board, and we will make all spending decisions with that in mind.
The current administration is fond of relying on the services of expensive consultants to make village policy, often for questionable projects like a Department of Public Works Refuse and Recycling Study ($43,000) that yielded almost no useful suggestions for improvement. Another questionable project involved hiring a consultant to study the feasibility of opening a restaurant at Croton Landing – the second such study paid for by the village in recent years. We will reduce the use of expensive consultants to instances when they are absolutely necessary. We have an outstanding group of village employees who are both trained and paid to perform some of these functions and we will call on the services of our many talented residents to assist their village.
Taking good care of what you have is the best way to reduce costs in the future. To that end, we pledge to begin the long delayed repairs to village facilities. These costs will only increase if they are further postponed. The Municipal Building alone requires more than $1,200,000 in maintenance and the mayor has informed us that “many of our major buildings are in need of serious and significant repairs.” Necessary maintenance must take precedence over non-vital projects such as Croton Point Avenue.
Another means of reducing costs is by looking to share services. We will initiate discussions with the Croton-Harmon school district to identify areas of shared services and cost savings. Relations with the school district have been strained in recent years and we will repair them.The taxpayers of the village and the school district are largely the same, so any savings will be doubly beneficial.