BY CAROL MCILMURRAY
Haverstraw Supervisor Howard Phillips, Jr. (R.) was officially sworn in for his sixth term and gave a positive 2016 State of the Town address at Haverstraw reorganization on Thursday, Jan 7.
John Gould (D) and Hector Soto(D) retained their Councilmen seats on the Town Board. Town Clerk Karen Bully was sworn in, Town Justice Peter Branti, his fourth term, and Superintendent of Highways George Wargo was also re-elected for his second term.
“For the third straight year, The New York State Comptroller’s Office [has] rated the Town of Haverstraw better than any other town in Rockland County in their fiscal stress test.” Phillip reported the rating had improved over the past year and Haverstraw’s annual independent audit had demonstrated that the town’s finances are in excellent condition because the town has made “prudent and fiscally responsible” decisions on behalf of the taxpayers.
Phillips noted Haverstraw to be in the best fiscal health of any municipality in NYS and noted a “modest increase” of an average of $15 per household. Phillips continued, “Although the town stayed under the 2 percent tax cap, we did not quite make the CPI of 0.73, an amount which our Police Department exceeded in cost.”
Phillips credited town employees and elected officials for providing more services without an increase in staff over the previous years.
By securing grants to offset the cost, Haverstraw has been able to offer residents numerous Youth Board events, 4th of July Fireworks, 5K Fun Run, Dancing Under the Stars, Senior Citizen programs, Day-camp programs, and veteran services. Phillips was also proud to report residents’ participation in Haverstraw Air Show, United Latin Habitat for Humanity house project, Haverstraw River Arts Festival, and Golf leagues.
Phillips thanked businesses Tilcon NY, Suez Water, Schutlz Ford for contributions to Town events. He said the town has continued to market the vacant Letchworth Village property in hopes of an appropriate ratable for the town. “We have asked our employees to do more with less and they have responded to the challenge. We will continue to work to improve services and expand opportunities for our residents.”