Board approves proposed budget, holds tax increase to less than 1 percent
Against the backdrop of a rocky global economy, Stewart Manor appears poised for a smooth transition into the 2012-13 fiscal year. Indeed, Mayor James Kelly and the board of trustees approved the proposed 2012-13 budget, which will yield an increase of less than 1 percent in the real property tax levy, at a public hearing held on Tuesday, April 10.
“I think our budget looks good,” said Deputy Mayor Robert Fabio. “We didn’t have to borrow from fund balance, take on additional debt to fund operations, reduce village services or lay off employees to keep the increase at less than 1 percent,” he added. This is in contrast to neighboring villages, which have had to cut overtime for village employees, deny new hires and propose selling off village assets, such as vehicles.
The board expects to close the 2011-12 fiscal year at or ahead of budget and plans to “carefully monitor expenses and to increase nontax revenue, with the overall objective of complying with the new 2 percent tax cap,” village officials said in a prepared budget presentation statement. The 2 percent tax cap is an initiative that was set forth by Governor Andrew Cuomo to provide relief from rising taxes. The legislature approved the tax cap in June 2011 to limit the annual growth of local property taxes to 2 percent or the rate of inflation.
Stewart Manor’s proposed 0.91 percent increase in the real property tax levy maintains an overall decrease since 2010. There was no change in 2010-11 and a 2.08 percent decrease in 2011-12, yielding a 1.17 percent decrease over the three-year period. The 0.91 percent increase will yield $1,443,278.57 in revenue for the village.
As for additional revenues for 2012-13, the proposed budget projects an overall increase of 2.04 percent, with commercial sanitation marking the biggest upward swing at 9.65 percent, or $54,814.00. For the first time in several years, every storefront on Covert Avenue in Stewart Manor is occupied, which, in part, accounts for that increase. Many of the businesses on Covert elect to have the village provide their sanitation services six days a week. The village has imposed a 5 percent increase for commercial sanitation services for 2012-13.
In terms of actual dollars earned, however, revenues from rentals and leases and the Stewart Manor Pool make up bigger pieces of the pie. They are projected to hit $253,305.68 (an 8.15 percent jump) and $199,044.00 (a 7.99 percent rise), respectively. Also forecast to rise is revenue from meters and parking permits: 6.02 percent to yield $88,000.00. Village officials reported that two additional parking meters will be installed on Covert Avenue, between Covert Place and the LIRR – an effort to both increase revenue and deter all-day parking.
Revenues from interest income; building, zoning and business licenses; and court licenses are all forecast to remain flat. Utility and sales taxes and franchise fees from Verizon and Cablevision are forecast to decrease by 1.27 percent (representing $84,805.40 of the proposed budget). State aid will have the biggest negative impact on the budget, dropping 4.67 percent. While the $43,260 of state aid per capita remains the same for this year, mortgage tax revenue has been on a rapid decline for the past seven years, according to a statement released by the village. “While it appeared to be leveling off, we are still noticing declining amounts, so the amount budgeted for this item is $18,000, down $3,000 from last year’s budget,” according to village officials.
Despite that dip, the forecast still looks bright for Stewart Manor. “With a solid fund balance and additional debt being paid off in the coming year, the future remains positive for the village finances,” said Fabio.