Written by Betsy Abraham Wednesday, 17 April 2013 09:14
Due to rising, uncontrollable costs from the state, Westbury residents can expect a modest increase in their taxes. The Village Board has proposed a budget that includes the first increase in taxes in the past three years, but one that is still well below the state mandated tax cap.
“Because of the village’s fiscal discipline and conservative budgeting practices, this year’s budget reflects a modest 1.72 percent tax increase, well under the village’s state-mandated tax cap,” Mayor Peter Cavallaro said.
The 2013/14 budget contains a residential tax rate of .00287 and a commercial tax rate of .00562. Accordingly, the typical Westbury homeowner, owning the average home with an assessed value of $346,390 will pay an average of $994, a modest increase from last year’s average of $966. However, as a result of fluctuating property values, individual properties may end up paying more or less than the average 1.72 percent average increase.
“With this budget, the village continues to maintain the lowest per capita village property tax levies for comparable villages,” Cavallaro said.
The budget includes a $243,448 increase in overall expenses. Cavallaro says that while the village exercised conservative budgeting, several unexpected, additional costs drove the budget up. One tangential cost driver was the after effects of Superstorm Sandy, and the cash flow constraints placed in the village as a result of the clean up efforts. There were also a series of state mandated cost increases. The village faces a $50,934 (7.9 percent) increase in the cost of employee medical coverage over last year, as well as a state mandated increase of $85,991 (20.5 percent) in contributions to the New York State retirement system.
Cavallaro says that the board has “taken every possible step to contain costs, while still providing the high level of services that village residents have come to enjoy and expect, and to deliver those services in the most cost effective and efficient manner possible.” One of the ways the village is combating these rising costs is by holding the line on discretionary spending.
“Under the proposed operating budget, the village will spend less than our operating budget five years ago, while still providing all essential services and enhancing certain others. Despite the continuing increase in the overall cost of living, we have managed, through this lower expense base, to save hundreds of thousands of village tax dollars every year,” Cavallaro says.
The village is also continuing to see savings in lower tax certiorari settlements and judgments, and by performing annual updates to keep tax rolls fair and up to date. They are also increasing fines and penalties for various code violations, as well as increasing costs for certain user fees for various village services such as commercial permit fees and non-resident community center room rentals.