Letter to the Editor: STEWART CLEARS THE RECORD

To the Editor,

Re: “Orangetown ponders tax cap compliance” article by Robert Knight – several corrections are needed. My proposed budget is under the tax cap because I am committed to obtaining tax relief for town residents, and because we can indeed save money through a smart combination of budget cuts, efficiencies, delayed capital spending and judicious use of reserve funds. However, Knight’s recent article got several important facts wrong, giving the false impression that our budget process is rushed.

First, Knight said the town’s final budget is due Oct. 22. It is actually due Nov. 19. Second, Knight wrote that the Town Board plans to meet in executive session to discuss the budget. In fact, this discussion, by law, is conducted in public meeting. Third, Knight wrote that a local law to exceed the NYS Tax Cap must pass by a “supermajority of 4-1” whereas in fact what is needed is a 3-2 majority vote. He then wrote that Town Attorney John Edwards and I disagreed about the timeframe necessary for such a vote. In fact, John and I are in complete agreement that the Town Board should obtain the right to exceed the NYS Tax Cap just in case it is necessary, and that the right time to pass this resolution is now, before the final budget is due on Nov. 19.

Knight’s mistakes give the false impression that the budget process is jammed up with last minute maneuvers. In fact, I submitted my supervisor’s “Tentative Budget” on time and under “the cap” on Sept. 24. It is the Town Board’s job to pass a “Preliminary Budget” on Oct. 22 and a “Final Budget” on Nov. 19, following legally required public hearings. Because my Tentative Budget is only narrowly under the NYS Tax Cap, prudence dictates that the Town Board should vote to override the tax cap now just in case this becomes necessary on Nov. 19. Otherwise we may actually end up as rushed as Knight mistakenly assumes.

Sincerely,
Andy Stewart
Orangetown Supervisor