OSSINING, N.Y. – The dissenting vote came from Ossining Town Councilman Peter Tripodi on Tuesday night as the board passed its 2013 budget, which includes tax hikes.
The 2013 budget calls for a 5.54 percent tax rate increase for residents of Briarcliff Manor and Ossining as well as a 3.31 percent tax rate increase for the unincorporated area. The average tax bill is set to increase $11.50 for residents of the villages and $43.60 for residents in the unincorporated areas of the town, according to town documents. Council members agreed the budget process was a positive step forward for the town, but Tripodi brought up many issues he had with items in the budget.
“This budget, while a small increase, is actually the most responsible budget I’ve seen from the town since my time on the board,” Tripodi said. He cited negatives he acknowledged were largely from previous budget mistakes and that other revenue could make up for the shortfalls at a later date. “But until then, we have to dip into our fund balance, roughly around $100,000 or 3 percent of our budget. That’s a big percentage.”
Councilman Eric Blaha said he was “surprised and disappointed” with Tripodi’s negative vote.
“I think we have to take ownership of this. I don’t think you can blame any past administration or dissatisfaction with prior budgets and prior votes,” Blaha said during the meeting. “This is the fruits of our labor, and I’m proud of this, and I can’t imagine not voting in favor of this budget.”
Councilman Geoffrey Harter agreed with Blaha.
“In my opinion, this is the tightest crafting of a budget that I’ve seen on this board,” Harter said, noting that he has sat in on the process for more than 20 years. “It’s true that we still have a lot of work to do, but, in effect, you’re tweaking, and we’ve tweaked a lot.”
Town Supervisor Susanne Donnelly, who previously spoke about the budget, said the $114,000 borrowed from this year’s fund balance would “even out” by 2013 and was made after moving cable franchise fees to the unincorporated part of the town.
“I think it’s very important that we just move forward,” Donnelly said. “There were times this year that we were really pulling the strings (to limit costs to residents). The key is to give the services at the best dollar value we can and to give the best productivity for you.”