Hometown Happenings: Clarkstown’s 2019 Budget: Putting the Taxpayer First

By Town of Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann

By Supervisor George Hoehmann

The process of constructing an annual budget for Town government is a tough, time consuming one. It is not a task that is taken lightly. The goal is the same every year: create a responsible and realistic budget that is balanced and puts the taxpayer first. We probed every budget line and challenged ourselves to find savings so we can provide an efficient government that the residents of this town can afford.

I am happy to report that the Town Board unanimously approved a final budget last week.

In 2017, we cut taxes. Last year, we remained flat. We’ve stretched every dollar to live within our means and will continue to do so.

In the past few years, we were able to pare down the tax bill by paring down the size of Town government. Even then, there are costs that increase automatically and beyond our control, especially those related to personnel. Our Town employees are hard workers and they are invaluable to the operation of the government, but by the time the ball drops at Times Square on January 1st the cost of our non-police personnel goes up–automatically–3.8%. And since 64% of the entire budget is dedicated to personnel costs, you can see how hard it is to continue to pass budgets with no increase in revenue.

In the face of that and other cost-drivers, such as inflation in general, the minimum wage increase and other cost shifts from other levels of government, we adopted a budget that only increases spending by less than one percent. The Town Board was able to work together and unanimously to achieve a budget that stayed under the tax cap of 2% and well below the allowable tax cap we could’ve hit, which was 4.16%. There was no way we were going to let that happen, as so many of you have continued to express just how important it is for us to make the Town’s budget work with what we have: just like you do.

The 2019 budget is a responsible and realistic budget designed to provide essential services and keep the Town on the path to long term financial sustainability.