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THE FOLLOWING LETTER FROM RESIDENT JOEL GINGOLD APPEARS IN THE 1/30-2/5/14 EDITION OF THE GAZETTE. It is re-printed here with permission. Additional important background information links follow his letter.
To the Editor,
Governor Cuomo has proposed
freezing property taxes through tax rebates, estimated at about $350 per
household, for residents of municipalities, school districts, etc. that keep
tax levy increases within the property tax cap, 1.6% for 2014. This will be difficult to achieve in most communities,
but especially so in Croton.
Through its intended acquisition
of the Gouveia property, the Village Board will throw away over $40,000 in annual
tax revenue ($15K for the village. $25K for the school district). In order to get under the tax cap, and
qualify Crotonites for the rebate, these funds will have to be made up
elsewhere or services cut appropriately.
I suspect that this will be particularly problematic for the School
Board who played no role in this misguided project.
The Board further intends to
spend $3 million of taxpayers’ money for the Croton Point Avenue (CPA)
“improvements” for which no one on the Board has been able to provide a credible
and consistent justification. Of the
total, $1.3 million will come from new bonds that will have to be amortized by
village taxpayers over the next twenty years.
Depending on whether you believe the Mayor or former Trustee Raskob,
that debt service will be $120,000 or $70,000 per year, in either case, a
substantial amount. Again, new revenues
or service reductions will be necessary to stay under the cap and ensure the
rebates for our residents.
In addition, in his
self-congratulatory “State of the Village” letter, the Mayor noted that “many
of our major buildings are in need of serious and significant repairs.” This sounds very much like hundreds of
thousands or even millions of additional dollars spent in the relatively near
term. And these are projects that are
necessary and probably can’t be deferred for too long.
So how then does the Board
propose to spend all of this money, stay under the tax cap, maintain village
services and ensure that our citizens get their property tax rebates? Perhaps they can once again raise the fees
for those village residents who have the audacity to demand the right to park
in the village’s lot, depriving the more deserving out-of-towners from using
those spots (for which they will pay higher fees).
Or maybe, just maybe, fiscal
sanity will return to Croton and the Gouveia and CPA projects will be
terminated, saving substantial amounts for the taxpayers, ensuring a continued
high level of village services, making it far easier to meet the cap limits and
preserving the rebates for our overtaxed citizens.
To this end, there are now three
new faces on the Board. Trustee Davis
has already demonstrated his concern over the tax burden on our residents by
voting no on Gouveia. One hopes he will
make a similar analysis on CPA and conclude that it, too, should be abandoned.
We have not yet heard from
Trustees Levitt and Slippen on these critical issues. Again, we can hope that they will demonstrate
the integrity, intelligence, and independence to oppose these ill-conceived
initiatives and, with Trustee Davis,
form a majority that represents the true feelings of the citizens of
Sincerely, Joel Gingold