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Eastchester Adopts Budget With Tax Hike, Layoffs

EASTCHESTER, N.Y. -- The Eastchester Town Board unanimously adopted a $34.1 million budget that will raise taxes by less than 2 percent and lay off 18 full-time town employees.

Supervisor Anthony Colavita said he and the four board members had a difficult time coming to terms with the 2012 spending plan.

"It is with a grave and heavy heart that we have to do this," Colavita said, referring to the layoffs. "But this is our job and this is what we have to do."

Colavita said the budget will raise taxes less than the 2 percent tax cap imposed on municipalities earlier this year by the New York State.

"We are under the 2 percent by about $50,000," Colavita said. "This board did not feel comfortable overriding the law. We did the best we could to stay within the law. We all felt very strongly about that.

The budget will mean a tax increase of $6.05 for the average homeowner residing in the Village of Tuckahoe who owns a home assessed at the village average of $8,000.

In Bronxville, residents who have a home assessed at the average assessment of $22,000, will see a tax hike of $16.64 per year.

A Tuckahoe resident whose home is assessed at the village average of $8,000 will see a tax increase of $1.89 for the year.

The highest tax levy will go to residents of the unincorporated portion of the town, where the average home is assessed at $10,000. Those residents will see a tax hike of $106 for the year.

One of the few additions to the budget is a line for $11,000 to pay salary increases for two members of the Eastchester Police Department who will be promoted to the rank of detective sergeant.

Colavita said the officers, one of whom is in charge of the property room, have been doing jobs that are above their job descriptions without appropriate titles and compensation.

Casualties of the budget begin with 10 staff members who work at Lake Isle, the three acre, town-owned park that features a golf course, tennis courts and swimming pools.

The staffers are laid off every year in January, but come back to work in early spring. This year will be the exception, said Colavita, noting that the board is planning on privatizing the upkeep of the park.

"It is definite that those employees will not be coming back," Colavita said.

When the budget was first proposed, Colavita said privatizing Lake Isle would save the town between $300,000 and $400,000 annually.

In addition to the Lake Isle staff members, two civilian workers at the Eastchester Police Department will lose their jobs. Three laborers, one in the Parks Department and two in the Highway Department, will also lose their jobs but two are retiring and will not be replaced. The remaining layoffs will be among clerical workers from different departments throughout the town, including an office assistant for senior services. A second staffer in that office will have full-time hours reduced to part-time hours.

The town recycling center, located in the north end of town near the sanitation department, will no longer be open to the public, despite the requests of residents who came to the board meeting to object to its closure.

Despite the reduction in staff, Colavita promises residents will still have the same amount of services they have always had.

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