The following was sent originally to Mamaroneck Town Councilwoman Phyllis Wittner with copies to: David Fishman, Ernie Odierna, Valerie O’Keeffe and Nancy Seligson
While I disagree with you on the specific reasons, I was pleased to see you vote against the Town of Mamaroneck budget.
With all due respect for the effort of all involved in the process, I expect that the 2010 town budget contains an unacceptable level of risk and fails to confront the likelihood of significant economic issues for the foreseeable future.
The highway infrastructure is very reasonably ‘bondable’ and should have been treated as such previously. In doing that, we should condense multi-year plans to take advantage of economies of scale, hedge against future raw material and labor cost increases and take advantage of low interests rates to the extent that reasonable professionals could predict such trends. It makes more sense to bond infrastructure items with rated economic lives of 20+ years than it does to bond a significantly less expensive vehicle with a much shorter useful economic life
Ernie was right that the town should have held to a zero percent tax increase or a tax decrease. ‘Reval’ won’t bring in any more money, just spread the burden more equitably. There is a reasonable expectation that the town will need to learn to deal with less revenue for a number of years into the future given the current income sources for the town. Or perhaps someone will suggest rezoning, face extreme criticism, but create the possibility of additional revenue. Or perhaps someone will figure out how to make the town and the school district share resources more productively and thus apportion tax revenues between them better, but such can only be considered a dream.
Continuing to blame mandates, e.g. the mandated pensions, and the fact that NY has a unique non-contributory system gets us nowhere but deeper into a hole. If NY provides dollars in the pension pocket that others don’t, then the town can provide less in the other compensation pocket – current salary and welfare benefits. And yes, technology can provide ways to do things less expensively. Technology properly implemented is not a net expense vs. the status quo, but rather provides a positive ROI [return on investment].
If we continue to work hard but in a manner reactive to a crisis and change only in the face of crisis, then we may see the train’s headlight too late. The efforts of all are appreciated (as is Tivo’s), but the second look that you and Ernie encouraged from different perspectives should occur after a brief break.
Town of Mamaroneck, NY