By Mary Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville
Apr.22, 2020: As I mentioned in a recent E-alert, possibly the only state deadline not extended was the requirement that Villages approve their next year's budgets by May 1. To that end, staff and trustees have been evaluating numbers and will finalize a budget in the next ten days via remote meetings. The tentative budget is on the Village website for review. When adopted, we will share the final version on all media outlets, but I thought it instructive to share some insight into the process.
The public health and economic challenges currently facing our village, state, and nation are unprecedented and, when combined with the level of uncertainties before us, have made the development of a budget the most challenging of our tenure. However, the village's very healthy fund balance, conservative budgeting, and dedicated workforce will help mitigate the impact.
There is no question the revenue side will be hit and hit hard. Chief among the concerns is sales tax revenue accounting for $1,030,000 in our last 2019-2020 $17,106,000 budget. Given that just a revenue loss of $81,000 moves the budget by a full tax point, the impact will be enormous. Closely intertwined is the ripple effect on parking meter revenue as retail establishments remain closed with no clear date for reopening. All is quite obvious as parking spaces abound on Pondfield Road.
Building permit revenues are currently down, and the trend is expected to continue as people have put the pause button on future renovations and current projects had to cease as deemed a non-essential activity.
Our aid from the state budget of approximately $240,000 remained flat in the governor's budget, but as mentioned in a previous column, it can be removed unilaterally if certain economic conditions are triggered.
Again, given the unique societal circumstances, we are projecting non-real property tax revenue to decrease between $400,000 and $500,000 in the current fiscal year and for revenues to remain down at the beginning of the 2020-21 year, which starts June 1.
As a backdrop, even prior to all the COVID-19 economic consequences, due to the general softening of the housing market nationwide, our village assessor updated our tax rolls resulting in hundreds of residents receiving a reduction in property value assessments totaling a decrease of $54 million in village property values to a current value of $3,115,683,425.
Costs in the police department will increase as a result of a newly negotiated four-year contract in late winter that all sides agreed to quite amicably. The real expense driver in the Police Department is the needed addition of a full-time officer at $94,000 (including benefits) and the possible need of a second hire just to deal with the voluminous administrative work created by the passage of the bail reform and discovery legislation promulgated by the state legislature.
Also, we have two public works employees who will receive salary increases based on step upgrades.
There is some positive news. We will finish the current 2019–2020 budget year $250,000 below budget thanks to savings in several categories including legal fees, fuel costs, liability insurance judgment and claims, snow removal, and the deferral of a new hire in the public works department. The savings will help to offset the loss in revenues.
The most positive and fortuitous number in our calculation is the village fund balance, which is at an all-time high of 43% of operating budget and is available to be used to mitigate and level off a potential steep rise in taxes.
Boards of Trustees in the recent past have been very conservative, sensing a fiscal rainy day could be in the offing yet again and saved accordingly. As a result of their judicious spending, we have a significant pool of reserves to tap. To put in perspective, Moody's and the other rating agencies suggest an unrestricted reserve fund balance of 20 to 25% of budget to maintain our highest possible AAA bond rating.
I have received no word as yet as to whether Village taxes will see any reprieve in payment deadlines or penalties as has been recently accorded town taxes, but we will share as information is disseminated.
In the upcoming tax cycle, you will now have the opportunity to pay by E-check or credit card as we are finalizing the mechanics of implementing these systems.
As everything is in a justifiable state of flux, will we will be in constant touch as to any changes that affect Village policies.
Photo by A. Warner
Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.