CORTLANDT, N.Y. – Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi is proposing a tax increase in her 2013 budget, with rates in Cortlandt, Croton and Buchanan rising by 2 to 3.5 percent.
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"It's a very, very low town tax increase," said Puglisi, noting that this was her 22nd budget. She said it was necessary to raise taxes "because of the $500,000 increase we have to pay for pension plans and the increase to health benefits and the increase in our other costs." Puglisi also said reduced revenues contributed to the tax increase.
"In the 1990s we used to get $3 million a year in mortgage tax revenue. Now we only get $1 million," she said.
The proposed budget keeps the levy below New York state's tax levy cap, by 0.3 percentage points, but depending on where residents live, rates could go higher than 2 percent. The proposed budget calls for tax rates to increase 2 percent in the town, 3.5 percent in Croton and 2.8 percent in Buchanan.
The proposed budget has a 1.4 percent spending increase. The total proposed budget is $36,984,414.
Tax bills are estimated in the proposed budget for an "average" homeowner with an assessed value of $7,500 in the town and Croton, and $5,000 in Buchanan. A homeowner in the town with a property assessed at the town average would pay an additional $34 per year, for an annual tax bill of $1,676. In Croton, the tax bill would increase $7, to $212. In Buchanan, the bill would increase $4.75, for an annual bill of $176.
Contracts with town unions haven't been negotiated for the 2013 fiscal year yet, and elected officials' salaries are listed as the same. Elected officials received a 1.5 percent salary increase in 2012, with the proposed budget showing no increase for 2013. Town Board members are paid $20,435, and the supervisor is paid $120,766.
Over the past 10 years, the Cortlandt town tax rate has increased 18.5 percent, although town officials point out that town taxes account for only 11 percent of taxpayers' annual property tax bill, and that the town's average annual increase over the past 10 years is 1.85 percent. From 1992 to 2003, town taxes remained flat, except for a 4 percent reduction and a 2 percent increase.
In Croton, over the same period of time, town taxes have increased 17.9 percent, and in Buchanan, 15.2 percent. Croton's and Buchanan's average annual tax rate increases over the past 10 years have been 1.79 percent and 1.52 percent, respectively.
The proposed budget for the Town of Cortlandt was released by Puglisi on Oct. 31 in accordance with New York state law, but because of Hurricane Sandy, a budget press conference was postponed until Friday, Nov. 9.