The following letter was published in this week’s issue of the Gazette.
To the editor:
Croton’s 2019-20 capital budget shows funding needs of $4,821,300. Of that amount, $275,000 comes from the state. Another $441,300 comes from the Croton fund balance. The remaining $4,105,000 comes from bonds and bond anticipation notes.
I believe our current debt is in the neighborhood of $36 million. I am concerned that our spending is exceeding what we can afford, and we will soon exceed $40 million in debt. This is a village of 2,400 households containing 8,000 people. This level of debt is not sustainable, and this rate of debt increase is not sustainable.
Croton’s debt service right now exceeds $1 million per year. It is time to begin setting priorities. We also need to think about the consequences of projects that start small and gather momentum.
The police headquarters are to be expanded, and we are told that they will take the ground floor of the Municipal Building since they need to have an additional holding cell and a changing room for female employees. That sounds reasonable and the 2019/20 capital budget allocates $60,000 for the Municipal Building renovation. But then for 2020/21 the budget allocates an additional $200,000 and the 2021/22 budget allocates $4,000,000. Is it really necessary for Croton taxpayers to pay $4,260,000 to renovate the Municipal Building for the police department?
This is the same problem with Gouveia. We were told that the bequest came with a $1,000,000 endowment which would provide in perpetuity for the upkeep of a village park. Just a few years later, the million dollars is either spent or due to be spent, mostly on paving roads and parking lots. The remainder of the endowment is going to be liquidated, and an additional $500,000 will be spent in 2020/21. The end result is that we in Croton will have spent $1,500,000 to turn a village park into a government office building.
What happened to the space in the new municipal office building we purchased on Route 129? We spent about $3,000,000 on that building with the understanding that it would house the Department of Public Works and there would be additional space for other Croton government offices. Now the DPW is getting the building all to itself, the Recreation Department is getting its own building at Gouveia Park, and the police department is getting half of the Municipal Building.
Does this make sense?
The writer is a former Deputy Mayor of Croton-on-Hudson and is currently the Chair of Croton United.