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Majority Passes 2013 Budget in Town of Ossining

Residents will see tax increases in 2013 that are below the state's tax cap.

Following a lengthy period of scrutiny and public feedback, four of the five Ossining Town Board members said they were proud of the 2013 budget that was adopted this week.

"We have listened to the public—especially the residents of the unincorporated area—concerning such items such as household garbage pickup," said Supervisor Susanne Donnelly.

And while Councilman Peter Tripodi applauded the town's departments and his fellow board members for their efforts leading up to the adoption, he explained the several reasons why he chose not to vote in favor of the $5,149,868 figure Tuesday.

He cited the town's inter-municipal agreement with the Village of Ossining, with its "out of control" payroll accounting services costing $300,000 annually, as well as the costs related to last year's court consolidation, as part of his cause for protest.

"There is no savings, the court is not practicing attrition," Tripodi said. "Rather, we have hired employees."

He also referred to the "repugnant" projections made last year regarding anticipated revenues, insinuating the figures were purposely inaccurate.

Fellow Councilman Eric Blaha said he was "surprised" by Tripodi's comments.

"This is our budget for the next year and we have to take ownership over this," he said to Tripodi, later adding, "A non-vote is a non-approval of the way this board has conducted itself and I find that unacceptable."

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Councilman Geoffrey Harter added that during his 23 years on the board, this year's budget process was "the tightest crafting of the budget I have seen..."

"I am very proud of the work that's been done," he said.

The budget itself does not go over the state-mandated cap on the tax levy, though residents will see bumps in their taxes in 2013.

"We have been able to stay under the tax cap by over $150,000, though your tax rate may be over the 2 percent we hear so much about," Donnelly noted. "Please remember the 2 percent cap is on the levy, not the tax."

According to town documentation, "Total appropriations for the 2013 entire Town (10) Fund are $5,149,868. Total appropriations for the Unincorporated (20) Area Fund are $3,659,311 and total appropriations for the Highway (31) Fund are $2,203,398. Total appropriations for the Water and Sewer Funds are $547,835. Total appropriations for the Fire/Light/Refuse Funds are $1,237,459. Total appropriations for the Ambulance District are $599,920."

The town's tentative budget summary indicated town general residents will experience a 5.54 percent overerall tax rate increase, while town outside residents will see a jump of 3.31 percent.

This means own general residents will see tax increases will averaging $11.50, based on the average assessment of $23,054, according to Donnelly.

In the unincorporated town, the average assessment of $20,672 will yield an increase of 0.13 cents.

Donnelly noted residents should pay close attention to their tax bills to discern the other districts they fall into—including the water, sewer and refuge/fire/light districts.

"Because our budgets are lower than other communities is why our rates go up faster," she noted.

Donnelly said the town adopted budget represents "a lot of things we can be proud of," including the addition of centralized purchasing.

The board will "continue to move forward and continue to work on these different issues," Donnelly said. " The key is to give the services at the best dollar value we can and the best productivity of each employee."

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