Ashley Calls for Cuts after Disclosure of Projected Quarter Million Deficit
North Greenbush Democratic Chairman Dan Ashley is calling for immediate action by the Town Supervisor and Board to cut spending after a report from the Town Comptroller last evening which projected a $250,000 deficit for this year.
“The town board has been repeatedly warned by Democrats that sales tax and mortgage tax revenues would not be realized due to the ongoing economic crisis affecting our State and nation. Yet the Supervisor has refused to make the tough decisions to cut spending in anticipation of what finally was confirmed last evening by the Town Comptroller”, stated Ashley. Sales Tax revenues received from the county are down at least 5% as is the mortgage tax revenue, just as we warned months ago. When projected out for the year, the town’s budget would suffer a $165,000 shortfall if the revenue stream remains at current levels.
Also disclosed by the Comptroller was the existence of a $85,000 deficit from 2008 which has not been erased. Together, the deficits could reach a quarter million dollars equating to a 25% property tax increase next year if no cuts are made now to offset the projections.
The Supervisor must take a great deal of the blame for the reckless efforts to spend money we do not have, stated Ashley. He has personally hired three town employees without the required Town Board approval and did so despite warnings from the Board not to hire them without proper approval. They were a Senior Clerk, and two Secretaries whose combined salaries total about $80,000. Evers also attempted to give himself a $42,000 pay raise this year, voted for a wasteful $40,000 no bid contract to redo the Comprehensive Plan, authorized unlawful insurance buyouts and allowed the contractual town engineer to keep some $20,000 in insurance premiums he improperly received over Evers tenure as Supervisor. All of these actions have further amplified the fiscal crisis we face and cries for a reorganization and streamlining of town government.
From grossly overspent water contracts to irresponsible hiring in town hall, much of this fiscal crisis can be laid at the doorstep of the Supervisor who appears overwhelmed by the responsibilities of his office, stated Ashley. To address this crisis, the Supervisor and Town Board must act, not watch, as the crisis magnifies. Like it or not, reductions in staff must be implemented in Town Hall in order to deal with a deficit of this magnitude. We will run out of money if we do not act to cut spending and be forced into borrowing.
Ashley noted that schools and municipalities around the region have proposed deep cuts in staff because of the economy. Saratoga Springs has proposed deep cuts in its police force and many school districts have proposed painful staff cuts, but not in North Greenbush where money flows like water in the hands of so called “Conservatives”. Ashley stated that if the Board does nothing and the deficit projections are realized, property taxes would have to increase 25%. Further, if next year’s budget is not cut by the same amount, another 25% property tax increase would be needed to fund the shortfall. The math is clear, doing nothing and spending at the budgeted rates equates to a 50% property tax hike in 2010 and our citizens cannot afford it, concluded Ashley.