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
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
Trustee Kolbert continued to regret having taken an additional
$50,000 out of surplus last year to reduce the tax rates,
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
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.”