Town of Stony Point Council members agreed at Tuesday’s meeting that the 2017 town budget would most likely surpass the state-imposed tax cap and thus voted to give themselves permission to break the cap.
The board also voted to continue the public hearing on the budget at the next public meeting, Wednesday, November 9 at the RHO Building. Though the annual local tax cap law passed several years ago by New York State pushes town boards to stay within a 2 percent tax levy increase annually, the complicated state formula in place often translates to a much lower percentage.
This year, Stony Point’s cap number is a mere 0.68 percent.
Government bodies have the authority to surpass the state cap if they attain a supermajority of votes from their board. The Stony Point Council agree unanimously that they cannot hold the budget within a 0.68 percent levy increase due to increased spending employee payrolls, new election costs passed on from Rockland County, road repairs and other basic town requirements.
Many costs are passed on to the town via state-mandated rules and regulations. Councilman Tom Basile remarked that it is inconsistent for the state to push costs onto towns and simultaneously push to keep taxes within a very small cap.
The budget’s proposed tax levy increase is about $530,000 or $12.195 million to $12.724 million. Increased budget expenses are a smaller number: only $14.757 million to $15.169 million, but non-tax revenue sources have dried up a bit, requiring increased taxation.
At the budget discussion Tuesday, department heads from the Highway Department and the Police Department were in attendance to discuss their budget needs. Superintendent of Highways Larry Brissing was upset that the budget for highways has been shrinking since 2013. He requested a larger budget for road repairs, equipment and for a new plow truck, stating one is 17 years old.
The PD Chief Brian Moore said there are five police cars with over 100,000 miles. He requested at least one new car. He also wants the town to hire more officers, arguing the current number of 25 is too low. The board said they will take these requests into consideration. The proposed police budget will increase to $4,826,395 in 2017 from $4,473,313 in 2016, including $310,000 in salary increases.
The town has yet to reap great dividends from efforts to attract rateables. A possible hotel in the Patriot Hills development, a $100 million gasification plant on Holt Dr. and a proposed waterfront condominium and retail project have each been discussed for years. If the hotel, condo or gasification plant projects ever get going it could shore up the town’s tax base, which was devastated following the Mirant lawsuit settlement, the departure of the Lovett power plant from the tax rolls and the closure of the Gypsum factory.
On the bright side, many formerly vacant storefront in town have been filled over the last few years, most notably Tractor Supply in the former Grand Union development.
To see the entire preliminary budget, visit: http://www.townofstonypoint.org/2017-preliminary-budget.