Gromack: Tentative Clarkstown budget contains no tax increase

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NEW CITY – Clarkstown’s tentative 2016 town budget will remain under the state tax cap for the second year in a row, according to Clarkstown Supervisor Alexander Gromack. What’s more, it will accomplish this by not raising town taxes at all.

The $143,783,445 budget, if approved, will keep tax increases unchanged and below the state’s 0.73 percent cap. Consequently, its passage would make Clarkstown eligible for the state’s Property Tax Freeze Program.

Gromack argued the savings were made possible by consolidations and cost cutting, including a 15 percent reduction in the size of the town’s workforce in 2014 and $7 million in cuts to departmental budgets.

“Despite increasing costs, we continue to make fiscally responsible decisions trying to reduce the cost of governing without reducing services,” Gromack said in a press release. “While we look to downsize and consolidate government, we are not short changing residents.   All the essential services are still being provided from recreation to leaf pick up to snow removal.”

Though the town has kept its taxes under control, it also faces mounting costs from both state mandates and expenses related to public employees. In 2016, pension costs for CSEA employees are expected to climb by $400,000 and healthcare costs expected to jump by the same amount. The town is also on the hook for a $209,000 MTA tax to New York State.

Likewise, Clarkstown has experienced some financial outlook setbacks in 2015. Diminishes in reserve funds and repeated draw downs beyond the minimum allowable level prompted Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the town’s credit rating in July.

Though the town retains a “stable” outlook, S&P warned short-term action was necessary to bolster reserves, otherwise further downgrades would be pursued.

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