SOMERS, N.Y. – The Somers Town Board held a public hearing on Dec. 6 on the town’s 2013 budget, illustrating proposed expenditures with several graphs to “show a little bit of where your tax dollars are going,” said Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy.
The budget is scheduled to be adopted by the Somers Town Board at the Thursday meeting.
Almost 76 percent of a Somers property owner's tax bill is allocated to the school system. Another 14.6 percent goes to Westchester County, the Somers Fire District gets 2.7 percent, and the town itself is allotted nearly 7 percent.
Of the town’s 7 percent, 24 percent supports the Highway Department, 8 percent goes to the library, 5.6 percent is allotted to debt service (relating to the acquisition of the Angle Fly Preserve and paving projects, among other things) and the remaining 62.4 percent goes to general spending, specifically administrative expenses, employee benefits, parks and recreation, police and insurance.
The $13.1 million town budget falls within the state-mandated 2 percent tax levy increase, coming in at 1.8 percent.
“In terms of total expenditures, we compare very well to our neighboring towns, and there are numerous studies that show we are the lowest, and we’re also credited for maintaining that,” said Murphy. "In this particular budget there are no big surprises, no big unusual occurrences."
“These are tough times for every government entity, from the federal government on down,” said Councilman Richard Clinchy. “I’m sure that everybody finds things that they wish we could do.
“But I think the state has to address some of the legitimate concerns that towns have with the 2 percent budget cap,” Clinchy continued. “Last year over 20 percent of the state’s towns were either unable to or decided not to stay within the tax cap. I think our town is doing everything it can to stay below the tax levy cap and we’ll continue to do so if at all possible.”
“The fact that we begin the budget process well in advance and have a lot of time to discuss individual budget line items is a big help to that,” added Councilman Rick Morrissey.
Although members of the public were seated in the audience listening to the budget presentation, no questions or objections were forthcoming.
The preliminary budget is available for viewing on the town's website.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the Somers Fire Department receives 2.7 percent of the Somers tax bill. The Somers Fire District receives tax levy support. The Somers Volunteer Fire Department Inc., a 501c3 organization, receives no tax-based revenue and relies solely on member dues, donations and fundraisers to support its activities.