Four Percent Business Tax Hike Proposed in Stony Point; Homeowners to Get Temporary Reprieve

Budget discussions continue at Stony Point Town Board; budget expected to be passed November 12

BY CHERYL SLAVIN

The public hearing on Stony Point’s preliminary 2014 budget continued Tuesday night.

The departure of business revenue from the town, and its affect upon the budget, was a theme repeated several times during the evening. Councilman James White noted that while the influx of county sales tax revenue from the new Shops at Nanuet would eventually benefit the town, the county chargebacks over the past few years have thus far not been rescinded, and therefore still offset whatever sales tax benefit the town might expect.

White expressed concern about being able to attract new businesses to the town under those circumstances and especially with a 4 percent proposed increase in commercial taxes. The town’s preliminary budget offers homeowners a decrease of 2.8 percent and commercial interests a 3.8 percent hike. Overall the tax levy is proposed to go down about 1 percent, a measure made possible by a $2.25 million sale of a 40-year lease for two cell towers that had previously been bringing in annual dividends of about $140,000. The annual dividends will not be present in future budgets, but in the meantime the town has some additional revenue to make use of.

Rockland County Times editor and Stony Point Supervisor candidate Dylan Skriloff inquired about the application of the cell tower lease income to the current budget. Supervisor Geoff Finn replied that part of the proceeds of the lease, $1.5 million, was indeed worked into the budget, but that in fact only between $500,000 to $600,000 of that amount would actually be spent for the coming year if all goes according to plan.

A main topic of concern continued to be the current and future funding for the police force. Resident George Mulligan started the hearing by inquiring about the reduction over the last several years of the total roster from 30 to 25. While he acknowledged the financial constraints the town was under, he asserted that a larger police force would positively affect the quality of life in Stony Point, and asked whether 30 men was the optimal goal of the Town Board. Several times Supervisor Finn bluntly answered “no,” each time more boisterous than the next, until finally Councilmember Karl Javenes ended the conversation by stating, “We have no money for more police. Every big business in town is gone.”

Resident Susan Filgueras remarked that if CHPE underground electric line were allowed to run its line as currently planned, it would disrupt what valuable commercial property the town has left, as well as adversely impact the two highest tax paying commercial residents in Stony Point. She questioned the town why they had not done an analysis on how the line might interrupt commercial properties and potentially affect the tax base.

During discussions, White and Finn conceded yet again that the town was not receiving optimal revenue from certain real estate holdings, including the Letchworth buildings and the golf course, but that at the moment it would cost too much to do what it took to make them more commercially viable.

In other news, the board indicated that it would indeed fund Highway Supervisor Larry Brissing’s long time request for an additional highway employee. The public hearing was continued to November 12, at which time the Board expects to pass the budget.

Councilmember Luanne Konopko was absent from the meeting due to illness, so the two agenda items she had requested, the creation of the Conservation Advisory Committee and an update on waterfront progress, were put over until November 12. Finn did give a brief update on the waterfront, however, by announcing that the state had ratified the Town’s Zoning Law changes.

Therefore, going forward, the new waterfront elevations must be observed by all builders, including the owners of Ba Mar, who had tried to start rebuilding prior to the passage of the new codes. Waterfront properties must now be built to an elevation of between 13 and 14 feet, depending on the zone.

During public input Library Director Benjamin Reid announced several upcoming events, including the launch of the new “Stories of Stony Point,” in conjunction with the Stony Point Historical Society, on October 28. On November 4 Jim Brown will speak about the Affordable Care Act, and later in November the library will once again offer, in cooperation with the North Rockland Food Pantry, its food for fines amnesty program.

During that time library patrons can bring non-perishable foods to the library in exchange for having any overdue fines expunged. The town also held a short ceremony to honor the state champion North Rockland Girls Under 13 soccer team. Not only did the team win the state championship, they went on to become the National Premier League NY division champions and national semi-finalists. George Potanovic also announced the second of SPACE’s candidates debates to be held on October 29 at the RHO building.