The following letter was published in the January 25, 2018 edition of the Gazette.
To the Editor,
I’m afraid I must take exception to Ian Murtaugh’s glowing portrayal of the Croton Point Avenue (CPA) project. While consensus has not been reached that the project is even needed, and questions remain as to whether it will impede, rather than improve, safety, my concerns are principally financial.
The Financial Sustainability Committee has warned that, unless action is taken, village expenses will exceed revenues in a few years absent significant tax increases. And our ability to deduct local taxes on our federal returns has been severely curtailed. Croton is already one of the most indebted villages in all of New York and debt service represents an inordinate share of the village budget. Piling on unnecessary debt under these circumstances is irresponsible at best.
The previous board solved the problem of a new village garage, an act endorsed by almost everybody, at a cost of about $3 million, half of what had been previously estimated. The current board proposes the purchase of new fire apparatus at a cost approaching $1 million. That seems like a pretty good place to stop.
The Dems record of estimating the cost of capital projects is spotty at best. The Elliott Way project had to be significantly scaled back when the bids received were well above the estimate, and even the reduced project cost will exceed that estimate. And who can forget that the $12,000 estimated for the driveway and parking lot at Gouveia Park morphed into an actual expenditure well above $200,000.
The latest CPA estimate (January 2015) on the village website puts the cost at $2.681 million. In light of the above, this value must be viewed with great skepticism.
It will be offset by a federal grant of $1.2 million, leaving about $1.5 million to be paid by Croton taxpayers. If the $250K state grant actually materializes (I have been told it was rescinded), we still have to come up with $1.25 million, plus all of the inevitable cost overruns. The use of the maintenance money paid by the county when the village took responsibility for CPA will only mean that future maintenance will have to come from other village funds.
So before the village board goes crashing ahead with this ill-advised project, it is incumbent on Mr. Murtaugh and his colleagues to first, prepare an updated, accurate cost estimate for the project and second, to provide to the taxpayers an analysis of exactly how these costs will be met and what the impact will be on the village’s budget and on future taxes.
When this is complete, I suspect that CPA will not look nearly as rosy as painted by Mr. Murtaugh.
Joel E. Gingold