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Eastchester Town Budget Features Low Tax Hikes

EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – Eastchester Supervisor Anthony Colavita announced a proposed budget Thursday that features low taxes and numerous layoffs.

Colavita distributed his tentative budget proposal to town department heads thanking them for their hard work on the spending plans they submitted to him, but noted he made more cuts.

"A lot of people will lose their jobs, but the vast majority of services in the town will remain the same," Colavita said. "The budget stays below the two percent tax cap imposed on us by the State of New York."

This is only the beginning of the budget process, which is likely to include at least six meetings. The Town Board will meet with department heads and other town staff members to determine the town spending plan. The board must hold a public hearing on the final draft of the budget on December 10 and adopt a budget by December 20.

Keeping a promise to residents to keep taxes down, Colavita said Bronxville residents, who have a home assessed at the average assessment of $22,000, will see a tax hike of $5.20 per year.

Tuckahoe residents 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 $123.05 for the year.

"We are talking about $10 per month for all the services we have here, garbage collection, Lake Isle, the Recreation Department, police and courts," Colavita said of the tax hike for Eastchester residents.

But the low tax increase comes at a cost for town employees. Three 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. Colavita said the town will consider laying off one or two police officers.

"I am hoping we don't have to do that. I want to keep as many officers on the job as possible," he said.

An office assistant for senior services is facing layoff and a second staffer in that office will have full-time hours reduced to part-time hours.

The town's recycling center located in the north end near the Highway Department will close under Colavita's proposal.

Further, the supervisor said he and the board will consider privatizing services at Lake Isle, the three-acre park that features a golf course, tennis courts and five swimming pools.

"If we decide to go ahead with that, and it is still up in the air, nine people will lose their jobs and the town will save between $300,000 and $400,000," Colavita said.

Colavita said that the town has already reduced its staff by roughly 28 jobs over the last few years and he is not happy about losing more jobs.

"If we lose another 15 or 18 people, it's going to make it difficult for the staff who is still here, who are already have had cuts, leaving only a skeleton crew in their deparments," he said

Although none of the elected officials, managerial staff or seasonal part-timers will see an increase in salary, the remaining town staffers, estimated to be more than 50 workers, are a part of CSEA and have a contract due to expire at the end of 2011.

Colavita said vigorous negotiations that began in the fall have come to a complete standstill and the town has filed an impasse with the state.

"Hopefully, CSEA will come back to us with a reasonable plan," Colavita said.

In addition to layoffs, Colavita said the town is on a hiring freeze and jobs where staffers are retiring will not be filled.

Colavita said a detailed presentation of the budget is planned for the Town Board meeting, scheduled for Tuesday.

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