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Dear BCN readers,

The 2010 charter required “Mayor’s Budget” has been revised. The budget changes will be officially announced at the Monday November 2nd council meeting. It contains the removal of the twelve day work furlough and reduction in hours contained in the original budget. City workers will not be experiencing any reduction in work hours. In addition the revised budget significantly reduces the number of occupied positions to be eliminated from five to one. The tax rate increase for residential assessments in the revised budget is 14.59 %. The commercial rate increase is 6.66%.

The revised budget includes an additional $167,000 in revenue owed to the city by the state for grants that were not received. It also includes $26,000 of city account adjustments. These increases in revenue were discovered the day after the Mayor’s budget was announced. They are the result the City Administrator, Meredith Robson and the Mayor’s persistent efforts to prevent the serious loss of city workers, a crippling reduction in hours that would affect city services, and a residential tax increase.

Much of the budget challenges were identified in the 2009 mid-year financial projection report that was widely publicized by my office. The budget has no increases in operating expenses. To help accomplish this, the city request that all labor unions honor a 0% salary increase for 2010. The budget includes over $600,000 in additional losses of sales tax related revenue. It compensates for $1,250,000 taken out of the reserve fund to balance the budget in 2009 but not being withdrawn in the 2010 budget. Much of the revenue included in the 2010 budget is from recouping debt owed to the city by the State of New York. Keep in mind that this source will not be available in the 2011 budget. In addition, this budget includes a number of positions that will not be refilled in an attrition program.

I anticipate working ambitiously with the council to further reduce the tax rate increase as we meet with department supervisors and review the budget line-by-line. A town hall meeting will be scheduled for late November and as always public comments are welcome at city council meetings. The council will be making amendments between now and late December when the budget is adopted.

Thank you,
Steve Gold

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You are killing me, and I have a job and possiblities of increasing my salary (even though I took a pay cut this year already). This is really going to drive many on fixed income out of Beacon.
So when you say that you are for lowering the tax rate, what exactly do you mean by that?? Cause it seems like you are really not for that....
Nearly 15%!! What you trying to do to people? There are already around 65 houses in this town in foreclosure. I guess you aren't running for re-election.
Looks like the current budget is paying for some of the recent follies that the current administration has overseen!!!
Also consider that there will be no star exemption in 2010. My taxes are increasing 33.2%.
I understand your frustration and the financial difficulties a tax increase presents to people on fixed incomes or those who are just making ends meet. I hope you read through the budget explanation and can see that there is simply no good way to make up for a loss of 1,250,000 of savings and 600,000 of sales tax related revenue. I don’t mind being blamed; if the economy was peachy I would be praised. But the fact of the matter is I didn’t cause these catastrophic losses to our revenue. I have been trying to deal with it as best I can in the worst possible economic climate since the depression. To her credit, the City Administrator managed to find much of the money needed in funds owed to the city by the state but not enough to prevent a tax increase.

It was a difficult decision to make when we found the additional 200,000. Had I left the positions slated for elimination it would have put five people out of work and forced most of the city’s employees to take 12 days off without pay. The result of which would be devastating to some very hard working and loyal city workers and their families. Plus in its wake (also including the attrition program) it would leave a much run down city infrastructure with maintenance, repairs and snow removal far away from any city’s standards. Yes, it would have also reduced the tax rate from 14.5 to 11.5% (approximately).

Perhaps in my shoes you would have chosen differently. If so, by all means, contact your council representatives as they have the ultimate power to reinstate the eliminated positions and reduction in hours. Remember the budget can be amended by the council and be passed by the council in December. I am counting on the council to work together with me and department heads as we review the budget line-by-line to bring the tax rate down.

On Monday the budget will be on the website with a general description of each line item.

Steve
There are a lot of good hardworking people in Beacon who have lost their jobs and are struggling to stay on top of their bills and pay their mortgages. I think they would happily tolerate a reduction in services to save themselves from a huge tax increase. We have all had to lower our standards of living in this economy. If the city has to lower it's standards of service, you should make a case to the residents about the necessity of doing so.

Charlene, I have never come out against the TOD. I don't expect the government to solve my problems, but I do expect the city to manage responsibly the one thing in my life they do control: my taxes. Having lost my job, I don't want to see anyone else get laid off, but the major needs look out for the interests of all the residents not just city employees. Are the major and city council that unaware of the economy and what is happening in this town. All I have to do is look out my window to see a stalled renovation due to a lack of income, one house up for short sale, one the owner already lost, and one where the owner jumped off the Poughkeepsie Bridge because she was losing her house to back taxes.
These are very, very tough times.
Definitely are tough times, cutbacks to employees is necessary to help reduce the tax increase. In the future, we have to remember not to use the surplus until it is necessary, like now. Too bad they used up the surplus in prior years to balance the budget.

Even though my Christmas list is being cut back, I am going to shop Beacon, many nice shops to find the right gifts!

Henry said:
These are very, very tough times.
Stop buying land, Mayor Gold....If the city council was not purchasing unneeded stuff (inspite of popular opinion, the city government does not need land to be able to govern...) then I would more sympathetic to your case Mayor Gold. You claim to want to lower taxes while at the same time governing a city that is purchasing land that will increase the tax burden...that just reads as very disengenuise....I assume that you agree with me.

Stop spending time posting blogs and spend more time governing the city...!!
Ouch.
I really do understand. I am having my own financial issues but it doesn’t compare to being out of work. I’ve heard some really compassionate and heart felt comments here.

All I can promise is that nothing will be taken off the table as the council joins me to go over the budget. Absolutely all options are open for a fair and objective review. That includes shutting down all unnecessary city expense, eliminating all non-self funding recreation expenses and going back to some or all of the staff reductions originally proposed, to name a few. BTW, approximately every 70,000 equals a 1 % tax change and every 1 day of furlough (for all non Police and Fire positions) saves the city 8,000.

The property purchased by the city for a park was in December of 2007 and it was made during the last administration. The mayor and council (of which I was one member) didn’t foresee the bottom falling out of the world economy at that time. But it would make more sense to go to the Hiddenbrook discussion to continue this particular dialog. I will not address it here, it doesn’t present a suggestion for anything we are considering.

Charlotte, thank you for connecting the dots! It is the city’s responsibly to increase its revenue so it can match its expenses. We really don’t know if the TOD will help or by how much. That’s why we spent 18,000 for a professional cost/benefit analysis. If for example it comes in with a 1 million dollar a year benefit and the city can formulate the zoning so that it will not harm Main Street and be a development that will “feel good” for us Beaconites, I think the council will pass the zone. I will vote yes under those circumstances.

Steve

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