The following letter was published in the February 1, 2018 issue of the Gazette.
To the Editor,
In his latest promotion of the ill-advised Croton Point Avenue (CPA) project, Trustee Ian Murtaugh conveniently avoids addressing any of the issues raised in these pages a couple of weeks ago; namely, the project’s cost, its financing, its impact on budgets and taxes, and whether we can afford it at this time.
In its September 2017 report, the Financial Sustainability Committee (FSC) stated:
“Going forward, the FSC believes that expenses will grow at a faster pace than revenue over the next several years, putting the village at risk to deplete the fund balance.
The FSC believes that the Village should start to take measures to reduce operating costs now to avoid necessary deep cuts in future years if not addressed.
The expense growth becomes exacerbated if the Village undertakes additional large-scale projects and/or violates the debt policy.
It further concluded that: “Reserves will deplete less quickly if The Village limits its Capital Plan.”
So let me be more specific, Mr. Murtaugh, and respectfully request that you respond to a few simple questions:
- Does the village board intend to comply with the debt policy adopted last year?
- Can CPA be funded, along with the new village garage, the new fire engine, and whatever other capital projects the board contemplates for the next few years, without violating that debt policy?
- How much has already been spent on CPA, what was the source of those funds, and what were they used for?
- Assuming that the ~$2.7 million cost for CPA is still appropriate, how will the balance of the project be financed? What allowance has been made for the inevitable cost overruns? What is the impact on village budgets and future tax rates?
- In light of the warnings from the FSC, how do you justify committing to CPA at this time?
And, no, Mr. Murtaugh, I do not think it is short sighted to express concern over the long term fiscal health of our village, when financial experts, who understand such things far better than you or I, have raised red flags about piling more even debt on our overburdened village. Rather, I think it is short sighted for the board to make such commitments without regard for their future fiscal impact.
When I was in school, I had an old professor who, when he asked me a question and I tried to talk around the answer, would say, “Mr. Gingold, No schmooze! Please just answer the question!” And I would say the same to you, Mr. Murtaugh, “No schmooze! Please just answer the questions!”
Joel E. Gingold