To the Editor:
In a recently published local newspaper, the statements by the three Republican/Tarrytown First trustee candidates demonstrate, among other things, a lack of understanding of the issues facing Tarrytown. While they made misleading assertions about numerous matters, we believe it is particularly important to set the record straight regarding their statements about the central financial factors affecting Tarrytown, so that our residents are not left with a distorted and unsubstantiated negative view of their Village.
The central theme of the candidates’ statements seems to be that they question “how our current Tarrytown government, with a tax base of corporations and waterfront development, can be $46 million in debt.” To begin with, it should be pointed out that the current government inherited over $21 million in debt from prior administrations. Secondly, as the Village’s public documents readily show, multiple tax challenges filed primarily by these same corporations and various developments are responsible for close to $7 million of the Village’s borrowings over the last 10 years (these challenges also reduced the Village’s assessment roll by almost 20 percent, resulting in tax bills for everyone else being 20% higher). Moreover, these same documents also reveal that, of the remaining bonds that were issued since 2005, virtually all of the proceeds went to restoring and replacing valuable infrastructure, most of which had been neglected by the prior administration. These expenditures include approximately $13 million to upgrade our deteriorated water system and nearly $8 million for Fire Department projects, such as replacing two dilapidated firehouses and two aging firetrucks. Other major projects included replacing both the crumbling Village Hall and a decaying seawall, as well as repaving potholed roads throughout the village. One wonders which of these projects the Republican/Tarrytown First team would like to have stopped.
It is equally important for residents to know that at the same time these crucial investments in our infrastructure were being made, the Village’s overall financial condition was not just stabilized but actually improved. Despite experiencing the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, our bond-rating — the most important measure of the Village’s fiscal health — was raised 2 notches and has been regularly reconfirmed. Furthermore, not only have tax rate increases under the current government averaged about 40% below that of the prior administration, but since 2008, the growth rate of property tax collections in this government’s budgets have come in at about one-half of the 2% tax cap imposed by the state. And this year, precisely because our Village stayed below the tax cap, all village taxpayers benefitted from property tax rebates sent by the State. In short, under the current administration, Tarrytown’s fiscal condition has improved continually while the village itself has seen a host of improvements and amenities. That, in fact, is what the record shows.
Mayor Drew Fixell
Deputy Mayor Tom Basher