From the mayor:
Now that the Village operating budget is finalized for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the Trustees and I will set our sights on crafting a capital improvement program (CIP) budget. We will work on it over the summer with a final adoption of specific projects at the September Board of Trustees meeting.
Since we approved a two year street paving and curbing capital project last year, that work will be done this summer when the Village streets are less crowded. We always strive to have street paving, sidewalk and curbing work completed before Labor Day and the start of the new school year.
Due to the economic downturn, the Trustees and I had suspended a capital improvement program in past years. However, this year we decided to take advantage of the one positive associated with the recession – the low cost of borrowing. Last year, we borrowed $2.54 million for capital improvements at the incredibly advantageous rate of 1.75%, thanks to our current triple A bond rating. That money is programmed to support the Village Police, Public Works, Buildings, Office and Library.
The range of the Village infrastructure requiring repair and replacement is vast and certainly more than we can judiciously spend so we will prioritize projects. One project already underway paid through last year’s CIP is a part of our flood abatement initiative. We are currently sending cameras through, and cleaning the entire expanse of the pipes leading from the Bronxville School to the Bronx River.
The scope of projects cross all departments and services provided by the Village. For example, the Bronxville sub-surface pipe and drainage infrastructure is in regular need of our attention primarily due to age. We had a recent sanitary sewer line problem and when the pipes were excavated, some were marked 1902.
We routinely have to replace vehicles and equipment in both the Police and Public Works Departments due to age and intensive usage. Unfortunately, since we do not have garages for most of our vehicles, their lifespan is significantly decreased. The same is true in the Parking department as rain, snow, age and accidents require routine replacement of meters, poles and parking bumpers.
We also anticipate additional expenses going forward as the warranties on the Village Hall mechanics since our 2007 renovation of our 70 year old Village Hall have all finally expired.
Funds need to be earmarked to upgrade our record keeping and slowly but surely keep moving all departments away from paper to digital storage. As an example, all Building Department records, going back decades, are now being prepared for electronic copying. Part of this cost is being paid through a $54,000 State grant, the rest through the Village CIP.
We expect to allot funds to do another revaluation of our Village properties given the fluctuations in the market over the past few years. A new assessment of Village property is prudent and timely. Funds to undertake this program will be provided through the CIP.
Trees must also be routinely purchased as many of our beautiful mature trees are nearing the end of their life cycle.
In the recent past, our construction projects at both the library and Village Hall have added to their respective footprints. Though the expansions were obviously needed, they do not come without recurring costs. On the operating budget side, heat and air conditioning costs have increased and the same is true for the capital needs. As example, a larger roof surface increases the possibility for repair and/or replacement of shingles or gutters. To avoid the costly results of deferred maintenance, we have routinely designated specific line items in the capital budget for eventual and recurring big ticket items. These budgetary lines are analogous to a kind of “layaway plan” so funds will be available to do anticipated repairs and replacements and the cost will not be absorbed in just one budget year.
As we prepare our list of capital project priorities, we must keep in mind that the Governor’s tax cap legislation is always looming. Both the principal and debt service of the CIP are not exempt from the tax cap in municipal budgets. In contrast, all capital improvement expenses for school district maintenance are exempt from the 2% tax cap. This translates into an unexplainable disincentive to repair the aging infrastructure throughout New York State - the logic being that schools should be incentivized to do necessary upkeep but not their surrounding municipality? In an effort to stay under the cap and thus look prudent, communities are foregoing capital programs with the end result that New York State’s infrastructure will deteriorate even further. Ironically, the folks who championed this cap will most likely have moved on and not be held responsible for the long term damage inflicted on New York State towns and villages.
We have always been frugal with our taxpayer’s money and will continue to operate in that fashion. However, municipal infrastructure needs improvement and renovation from time to time. We will have our work on the 2012-2013 capital improvement program ready for public view and comment in the early Fall. Please share your thoughts at that time.