Washingtonville Elated at 0% Tax Increase in New Budget
By Eugenia Moskowitz
By all accounts from residents present, the first public hearing for the new Washingtonville budget on Jan. 22 went very well. With the use of a projector and screen donated by Leo Garrison of local business Metro Sound Pros, Mayor Joe Bucco led a very informative visual presentation of the General Fund (Fund A). The presentation was a welcome aid to help residents follow the discussion and understand the budget.
With the controversy over the $5.1m budget from last year, the mayor and board kept a watchful eye on the spending and a tight string on the purse, and as a result the mayor is confident that a tax increase is not necessary to keep the vibrant Village of Washingtonville in good shape and be able to cover improvements to quality of life including important infrastructure and parks/recreation. Thus residents will likely see a 0% tax increase.
Of the proposed budget, about $1.6m will come from “non-property taxes” including about $950,000 from Orange County Sales Tax, the $135,000 grant from Assemblyman James Skoufis for Vern Allen Park, and a $30,000 receivable from Crystal Run for the purchase of some wetlands on Cardinal Drive.
Although prior annual budgets included $150,000 for “road paving” and another $40,000 for “curb/sidewalk repairs,” many residents have not seen those improvements and some streets need a complete overhaul. Bucco mentioned Decker Drive and other streets in dire need of repair. His proposal is to take a bond for between $1m to $2m for a complete renovation of village streets and sidewalks using these monies totaling $190,000 to pay for the bond which would not add any additional expenditure, keeping the budget the same as last year.
One resident said, “I’m impressed that so much can be done when our money is managed right. It’s a nice change to see in our village government after so many years of stagnation.” This is Bucco’s first year as mayor, a position he won last March in a landslide victory on a platform of transparency in village government, which residents felt had been lacking.
Bucco also discussed hiring a part-time tax assessor and buying a street sweeper to be used by both villages, Washingtonville and South Blooming Grove, as well as the Town of Blooming Grove; Washingtonville would maintain and be custodian of the sweeper and the other two municipalities would pay Washingtonville via inter-municipal agreement for its usage. The operator would be a Washingtonville DPW employee.
The next meeting will be held on Jan. 26 at 7:00 p.m. when the board will present the Water Fund and the Sewer Fund. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend. Copies of the budget are available at Village Hall and online. The full video of the budget hearing and all village hall meetings can be found at http://www.washingtonville-ny.gov by scrolling down and clicking on “Visit our YouTube Channel.”