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Pelham Exceeds Tax Cap as Levy Hits 4.6 Percent

PELHAM, N.Y. – Mayor Ed Hotchkiss and the Pelham Board of Trustees decided after much debate Wednesday night to increase the property tax levy to 4.6 percent in the 2012-2013 fiscal budget, surpassing the village’s 2.3 percent tax cap.

The trustees debated whether to put money into repaving the roads or installing security cameras for the police department. Trustees Laura Morris and Paul McGoldrick supported paving the roadways while Hotchkiss and trustees Geoff Lewis and Joe Marty favored the cameras.

The tax levy for the village during the 2011-2012 fiscal year was $9,672,996 while the cap limit set in place for the 2012-2013 fiscal year is $9,896,108.

The proposed tax levy for the more than $13 million budget for 2012-2013 is $10,119,487, which is an increase of $446,491 or 4.6 percent from the current property tax levy. The total proposed Pelham budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year shows a 3.035 percent increase from the 2011-12 adopted spending plan that totals $12,855,122.

The board said the tax levy is higher because of pensions, insurances and contracts.

The big debate, however, centered on improving streets or purchasing cameras for police. The mayor said that, while he has “a problem with the roads being deteriorated,” he believed now was the right time to install the cameras.

“The public will support this,” Hotchkiss said, adding roadwork could wait. “I’ll let my block go another year to buy the surveillance equipment.”

The board eventually decided on a $500,000 Bond Anticipation Note to cover both programs. The five-year bond also covers required fire department equipment and a multi-use sidewalk tractor to replace the village’s current 1972 model. The bond will be paid off in $100,000 increments over the next five fiscal budgets.

Village Administrator Robert Yamuder, who put together the tentative 2012-2013 budget, said the decisions the board had to make were difficult.

“We don’t want to overtax people because it’s rough. We don’t want under tax – it can hurt the village and services,” he said. “So, we’ve got to figure out what’s more important – the roads that have been neglected, the PD camera’s important, everything’s important, but they have to make tough decisions.”

The tentative budget will be posted Thursday on the village website and a public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday. The board plans on adopting the budget on April 24, which would give it time to adopt it on or before May 1.

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