New Castle's tentative 2013 budget calls for increasing the tax rate by 3.26 percent.
The early version of the budget, which is on the town's website, would raise the rate from $13.233821 per $1,000 of assessed property to $13.665249 per $1,000. The rate is the measure of what taxpayers owe.
The rate hike comes at a time when the town's tax base has taken a large hit. Data in the tentative budget show that the total assessed valuation of property in town dropped by $5,986,919 (from $1,074,068,040 to $1,068,081,121). The drop has coincided with tax refunds made, including the Riverwoods condo complex. However, according to Town Administrator Penny Paderewski, the full impact of those refunds may not be known until the end of the year.
The budget proposes spending $35,969,672 in total, including more than $19 million for the general fund and roughly $3.9 million on the highway fund.
The tax levy, according to Paderewski, is proposed to increase by roughly 2.14 percent (from $19,340,705 for 2012 to $19,754,073 for 2013). While the state-mandated property tax levy cap is 2 percent this year, the town can go over because of an exemption that allows it to take into account a change in the size of the tax base.
The levy exemption is arrived at through an equation, Paderewski explained. With it, the previous levy is increased by a number called the growth factor (for tax base change), which is set by the state and is 1.0056 for this year. The next step is to increase that sum by 2 percent. Coupled with a pension allowance of $141,617, the town could have raised the levy up to $19,979,610, - it is the maximum allowable levy - but chose not to. The town also opted not to use the pension allowance exemption for spending, Paderewski said.
Costs continue to be an issue for New Castle, particularly on the side of personnel. Although, according to Paderewski, no layoffs are planned, employee benefits are set to rise by large amounts, such as by $597,889 under the general fund and by $120,104 under the highway fund.
Cuts will include a loss of $25,000 in funding to NCCMC, from $125,000 to $100,000. The skate park near the Chappaqua train station parking lot, which is supported jointly by the town and Pleasantville, will also be discontinued, Paderewski confirmed.
Under state law, the next budget iteration will be known as a preliminary budget, prior to an approval vote. New Castle must have an approved budget in time for the new fiscal year, which starts Jan. 1, 2013. The Town Board, which held its first work session for the budget on Tuesday night, has two more: Thursday at 7:15 a.m. and Oct. 9 at 7:45 p.m.C
Copies of the budget's two parts are attached as PDF files and can be found here on the town's website.