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Pelham Board Passes Law to Override Tax Cap

PELHAM, N.Y. – Mayor Ed Hotchkiss and the Pelham Board of Trustees unanimously authorized Tuesday a local law allowing the town to override the 2.3 percent tax cap mandated by New York State. The revised tax levy of the more than $13 million dollar budget is currently $10,038,058, a 3.77 percent increase from the 2011-12 budget.

The cost of pensions for fire and police department employees, in addition to other village staff, has been the “big story” of the 2012-2013 budget, according to the mayor. More than $1.4 million of the budget is directed toward pensions.

“We thought last year we would have the maximum of pension contributions,” Hotchkiss said. “This year, much to maybe our surprise, they actually went up. We didn’t think they could go up because that was historically high.”

The pension contributions increased from 21 percent for police and fire to 25 percent while they also increased from 16 percent for all other employees to 18.6 percent.

Hotchkiss did not want to reduce taxes by borrowing money from the general fund to support the budget because he and the board said they would like that fund to “build up.”

“We also wanted to maintain services here,” he said. “We felt that we definitely did not want to reduce the police or fire presence and that with our DPW staff it’s really at a minimum. We have nine people and one of them is a mechanic who takes care of the whole village. So there’s no way that we felt that it would be proper to reduce our staffing at all given the circumstances.”

The board will be vote on adopting the 2012-2013 preliminary budget on Tuesday, Apr. 24 at 7:30 in village hall. Under New York State law, the budget must be adopted on or before May 1.

Also during the Tuesday meeting, Adam Kagan and Paul McGoldrick were sworn in by Judge John DiChiaro as board members after winning in the March election. Trustee Joe Marty, who was reelected, was not present and John Brice, who will serve on the Pelham Architectural Review Board, was also sworn in.

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