Spending in Clarkstown

BY MARIA BROWNSELL

What needs to be bought, what needs to be fixed, and where will the money come from? At the June 24 Town Board Workshop meeting in Clarkstown, money was the hot topic. Jo Anne Pedersen, the superintendent of Recreation and Parks gave some updates.

Germond’s pool, which is 41-years-old, has had many updates throughout its years, but has major problems catching up with it. The underground piping is full of holes and so does the pool liner. The estimate Pedersen was given is $2,200 to fix the areas around the lights, but isn’t sure what that includes. There are a lot of safety and health concerns with the pool that need to be figured out right away. To renovate and bring the pool up to code would cost about $1.3 million, which would fix the piping, new filtration and many other problems. Another option would be to close the pool, since Clarkstown has two other town pools. It was decided to discuss this topic further at a later workshop meeting.

Pedersen also explained the need for three new trucks to be replaced in the Recreation department. She said that they use their vehicles for a good 15-20 years until they are completely rusted out and unusable. Councilman George Hoehmann asked about sharing vehicles with other town departments.

Many of the Little Leagues around Clarkstown are requesting various improvements to their fields to be paid for by the town for over $115,000. New City Little League asked for their nets to be extended for, the Nanuet girls Little League wants bathrooms, and the Valley Cottage Little League wants screening to block houses and nets. Pedersen said she keeps getting calls on these issues.

Rob Berdy talked about the street lights that need to be replaced in Hamlet Centers. He said they are short at least three lights in Congers and have used up all their spares. It would cost less to order in bulk, so he wants to order 12 lights for about $63,000 depending on the bids they get. Many poles are knocked down each year from car accidents, some of which are paid for by insurance, but many which are hit and runs.

The main event of the evening was a 45 pages presentation of a Multi-Year Financial Plan by Comptroller Ed Duer. The purpose of the presentation was to show what may happen in the next few years. It is predictions of money that will need to be spent, but not a decided upon budget. It is to help better understand and plan the next few years. The presentation included a breakdown of revenue spent in the past, in the current budget, and projected future. The expenditures were also broken down by section.

Tom Nimick of New City asked, “What debt is being retired?” He said it appears that the debt is increasing over the next five years instead of decreasing as promised.

Councilman Frank Borelli agreed that they want an update in the debt that is being retired each year. Duer did not have an answer with him, but referred to the money coming off the principal balance of money owed. For 2014, $11,740,000 would be paid as principal on obligations. Those numbers did not match the numbers that were given back in January by Duer at another meeting.

“In a 5 year plan, what is the maximum amount to spend?” asked Borelli.

Hoehmann concurred there needs to be a limit to what can be spent so that priorities can be established. He said this would be helpful with the budget. The problem is where to cut. This year’s budget is already done and next year already has many obligations already locked in. After qualifying for grant money for specific projects, those projects shouldn’t be cut because the grant money would be lost. Gromack asked board members for suggestions where to cut in the Capital budget to make the debt go down. There weren’t any real suggestions, just agreement that it needs to come from “somewhere.”

Michael Hull asked about cutting operating expenses and possibly having a hiring freeze. Supervisor Alexander Gromack said that they’ve already cut 78 positions, but agreed that lay offs could be possible.

“So does the board all agree that significant cuts need to be made in the operating budget?” asked Nimick. All the members agreed he is right.