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Pound Ridge Town Board Adopts 2012 Budget

POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – The Pound Ridge Town Board has unanimously passed its 2012 budget, which will call for a 2.5 percent increase in the tax rate.

The board voted to adopt the $7.3 million budget after a public hearing held last week during its regularly monthly meeting.

The 2.5 percent tax hike means residents will see an increase of 27 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value or an average of $48 per household.

Without including open space appropriations, the spending package is just under $7 million. With $2.9 million in revenue and an additional $330,000 from the fund balance, a total amount needed to be raised by taxes is $4.5 million, an increase of $115,969 over last year.

The amount of money used from the fund balance decreased by $187,731 compared to 2011. Steve Conti, the town’s director of finance said the town’s goal is to eventually avoid using the fund balance altogether.

“The plan is to reduce the use of the fund balance and bring expenses in line with revenue,” he said. “It’s still a pretty healthy balance at $1.8 million. My goal is to get us to use zero dollars from it within two years,” adding that the town will “eventually replenish” the fund balance “as times get better.”

The 2012 budget saw spending drop by $97,307 and revenues decrease by $25,545.

Conti noted that the town has been spending less and less since 2009, with a drop in appropriations each year. In 2009, spending was at $7.4 million. It dropped to $7.2 million in 2010 and $7 million in 2011. The biggest cost increases, he said, were retirement benefits, health care and workman’s comp, which rose around 2.7 percent.

“I think the town board has kept the impact on the taxpayer pretty stable,” he said. “Our long-term planning has been pretty helpful. We are looking five years out—that’s why there have been no surprises.”

On the revenue side of the budget, Conti said the town took a big hit in 2010 when revenue dropped from $2.7 million to $2.1 million.

“We lost around $500,000 thanks to a decrease in the amount of mortgage taxes collected,” he said. “It was when the housing market dropped out. But since then, our revenue has remained pretty consistent.”

Conti said the 2.5 percent tax increase does not mean that the town went over the state-imposed 2 percent tax cap.

“The state allows you a growth rate for taxable value,” he said. “They assign you a rate.”

Conti said the formula provided by the state meant Pound Ridge’s tax rate could increase as much as 2.57 percent. With a 2.5 hike, the town remained under the cap.

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