PRESS RELEASE FROM RAMAPO COUNCILMAN AND SPRING VALLEY MAYORAL CANDIDATE DANIEL FRIEDMAN
What began as irresponsible leadership on all levels of Village Hall has now culminated with indictments of corruption against the mayor and a village board member. Disturbing incidents of financial improprieties have yielded to even more shocking tales of bribery and corruption, all of which resulted in the deepening distrust that residents have of their own government.
While this village suffers tremendous crises – fiscal and otherwise – the greatest challenge we will face is that of restoring the trust of the public in Village Hall. Given the records of the current occupants, it is clear that the only way to achieve this is with new leadership that brings new and practical solutions.
Before two members of the village board were arrested for corruption, the public trust was eroding quickly, as residents took note of their skyrocketing tax bills each year. What most residents still do not know is that while their tax bills were soaring, so were the salaries of their elected officials. In a decade, the mayor’s salary increased almost $50,000, while the salary for the board members – three of whom are also running for mayor today – almost tripled.
|Property Tax Rate||Mayor’s Salary||Board Member’s Salary|
|2002||$118.20 per $1,000||$78,898||$9,500|
|2012||$229.30 per $1,000||$125,000||$25,750|
|Percentage Increase||94% Tax Increase||58% Pay Increase||171% Pay Increase|
|Dollar Increase||Roughly $2,300 per family||Over $45,000 a year||Over $16,000 a year|
Just last year alone, the mayor and village board passed a budget that increased taxes far beyond the 2 percent tax cap, and at the same time, included a pay increase of roughly $10,000 for the mayor, and $4,400 for each trustee. The pay increases to Village Board members amounted to more than 20 percent in a single year.
This is no way to run a government or a business. As a councilman, I have proudly kept to the 2 percent tax cap each year, and while village officials hiked their own salaries by thousands of dollars last year, I took a voluntary pay cut. The mayor and board members who voted for these tax increases took your tax dollars and put it in their pockets – and now they have the audacity to ask you to elect them mayor.
It is no surprise then that so many residents I meet want to abolish the village entirely; they don’t know what good government looks like anymore. The public’s distrust of Spring Valley officials can be traced to many things, but the annual practice of elected officials lining their pockets with the taxpayer dollars of working families is certainly a main source of their frustration, agony, and lack of trust. It is time to put an end to that practice.
As long as I am mayor, there will be no pay increases for elected officials until the day this village can pass a responsibly balanced budget that also CUTS property taxes in Spring Valley for the first time in decades. By maintaining such a policy in Village Hall, we will be able to begin to restore fiscal sanity and the public’s trust in their village government.