Village Passes Budget with 6.5% Increase:
Extra $6000 for Community Counseling Center

by Judy Silberstein

(May 1, 2003) It’s official: The Board of Trustees voted to support its Budget for 2003-2004 at a special meeting on April 28. The approved budget was substantially the same as announced in late March (See: Preliminary Budget), with the only amendment covering an additional $6000 for the Community Counseling Center which provides mental health services in the schools and tri-municipal area. The vote on the budget was unanimous, but the Democrats and the Republicans on the Board continue to disagree in principle on use of the surplus.

The boost for counseling came at the bequest of Trustee Marlene Kolbert who lobbied her Board colleagues and researched what the Town of Mamaroneck, Village of Mamaroneck and School District were doing to support the organization.

“I believe that the work they do is outstanding," said Trustee Kolbert. "They are an extremely valuable asset to the community.”

The additional $6000 will come from the surplus, so the budget boils down to the following:

  • A Total Budget for 2003-2004: $11,243,645

  • An Increase in the Tax Rate of: 6.5%

  • A Tax Rate of: $212.85 per $1000

  • Funds Coming From Surplus: $421,000

The Democratic Trustees once again expressed concern about the level of funds coming from surplus.

“Thank God we have the surplus this year,” said Trustee McAndrews. “But next year may be even harder on state contributions to the pensions. There is no expectation that the surplus will be replenished as it has in the past because we’re taking out so much more than in the past.”

"I’m very worried about next year,” she concluded.

Trustee Kolbert continued to regret having taken an additional $50,000 out of surplus last year to reduce the tax rates, and would have preferred that the $6000 for the Counseling Center come from other sources than the surplus.

The Republican Mayor and Trustees did not share their concern for the surplus. Mayor Ken Bialo stated, “The surplus is still huge compared to the other municipalities.” He argued that large capital projects are funded with bonds, not from surplus. He also predicted that by next year much of the surplus would be restored.

“Let’s not get in a panic about this,” he advised.

Deputy Mayor Liz Feld favored the increased use of the surplus, even if it does not bounce back to its prior level by next year. “After all, this is the tax payers’ money – they should get it back.”

Regardless of the source of the money, the Community Counseling Center was grateful for its extra funds. “We’re very happy with the show of support by the Village of Larchmont,” said Mark Levy, Executive Director of the Counseling Center located at 234 Stanley Avenue in Mamaroneck. It’s a very tough year financially to keep nonprofit agencies running at the same time as we see an increase in demand for our services.”

With the uncertainty in the New York State budget, the Counseling Center does not yet know whether it will continue to receive the same funding level as last year. The Mamaroneck School District, also facing a difficult financial year, originally cut $10,000 in funding for counseling programs. However, the School Board later restored the $10,000.

Demand for counseling services is up. “We now serve over 850 students,” said Levy. There is a new program for eighth graders, Advocacy Groups, serving over 100 students.

“Our crisis intervention service remains busier than we’d like to see,” he added. Local children, adolescents and their families are using the counseling services, and there are waiting lists. A particular emphasis is on alcohol awareness and the Center works closely with community leaders, law enforcement personnel schools and parents on these programs. Troubled teens may be mandated by the Town and Village Courts to participate in one of the Counseling Center programs.

“This is a wonderful community to live in,” said Levy, “But we have a number of children and families who are really struggling.”

 

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