Garden City's Village "income" comes predominantly (i.e., in the neighborhood of 80 percent) from real property taxes on residential and commercial property in the village; however, we also get income from mortgage recording taxes, interest on investments and some federal and state grants. Due mostly to specialized tax lawsuits against the village (called "tax certiorari proceedings"), our commercial real property tax income is down. Similarly, the Long Island real estate market has reduced our income from mortgage recordings; and the national economy has reduced our income from investment income and from federal and state grants. The result is that we face village expenses this coming year that are similar to last year's, but income that is not. This means that if we don't increase our village government expenses by a penny for our next (6/09 - 5/10) budget, we would have to raise residential real estate taxes by an unacceptably high percentage (e.g., almost 17 percent) in the village to make up for the lost income in other areas! (In passing, each 1 percent increase in village taxes would cost a typical homeowner about $50.) The only way to avoid this is to reduce our projected future expenses. Your board of trustees and village staff are therefore now consumed with budget hearings looking at a variety of alternatives, including the possibilities of temporarily deferring (or even eliminating) certain capital projects, instituting some "user fees" for certain village services, increasing efficiencies in our use of village employees, and even (as a last resort) curtailing some village services. No final decisions have been made as of this writing, but everything is "on the table." The board of trustees will be conducting work sessions to review the proposed 2009/10 Operating/Capital Budgets Thursday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. and on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 8:30 a.m. These sessions will be held in the Board Room at Village Hall. These sessions are conducted in public but will not provide for public participation.

The annual Village Election will be held Wednesday, March 18, from noon until 9 p.m. at Village Hall, 351 Stewart Avenue. Village residents will be voting for the following candidates:

Robert J. Rothschild - Mayor, 2-year term

Andrew J. Cavanaugh - Trustee, 2-year term

Laurence J. Quinn - Trustee, 2-year term

Dennis Donnelly - Trustee, 2-year term

Allen S. Mathers - Village Justice, 4-year term

Since the incorporation of the village in 1919, members of the Board of Trustees in Garden City have been elected by a non-partisan vote of residents in accordance with the policies of the Community Agreement.

Absentee ballot applications to be used in conjunction with the General Village Election March 18 are available at Village Hall, 351 Stewart Avenue. The village clerk must receive applications by March 10 if the ballot is to be mailed. For personal application, the deadline is March 16. The next regularly scheduled board of trustees' meetings will be held Thursday, March 5 and Thursday, March 19, at 8 p.m. I encourage residents to periodically utilize the village's website for information regarding the village's operations, as well as items of seasonal and special interest. The address is www.gardencityny.net. Also please be aware that I have a village email address and would be delighted to hear from village residents about their concerns - it is as follows: MayorPBee@gardencityny.net.

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