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Croton's Looming Triple Fiscal Storm

February 9, 2009

To the editor;

Did you know…? In 2009 the County tax rate will increase only 1.77% and the Town of Cortlandt tax rate for Croton village residents will increase only 1.35%. It is not surprising that the village anticipates a similarly low tax increase for 2009-2010.

But this is the calm before the fiscal storm looming just over the horizon. Croton faces a triple storm, not this spring, but next spring: Rising cost mandates, falling property value, shrinking revenue from non-property tax sources.

Several key costs and revenues are lagging indicators that hit municipal and school district budgets one year after they rise or fall:

  1. Today’s drop in state sales tax revenue will not reduce revenue to the village until next year.
  2. Today’s drop in property sales will likewise not be felt until next year’s mortgage tax revenue declines.
  3. Today’s drop in home prices will be followed by a rise in successful tax grievance cases. The resulting lower assessments will not raise everyone else’s tax burden until next year.
  4. Today’s declines on Wall Street mean the village’s pension contributions will have to make up the difference. That alone could add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the village’s budget for 2010.

Claiming we are in great financial shape today is like whistling past the graveyard. We need to do more now to better prepare for this coming perfect storm.

— Leo Wiegman (on behalf of myself, Ian Murtaugh and Demetra Restuccia)


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