At the February 25th Council Meeting, freshman councilman and new Finance Committee Chairman Vinnie Pellegrini drew a line in the sand in support of a zero tax increase. About 2 weeks prior, Mayor Budesheim presented Councilman Pellegrini with the CFO’s draft of the 2015 budget which, once again, called for a hefty increase to the municipal budget.
If you recall, last year the Mayor presented the same to then Finance Committee Chairman Paul Carelli. Councilman Carelli responded with an alternative budget which would have resulted in a zero increase for taxpayers. Although he was not able to push this through, with the support of Councilmen Garrett Astarita and Steve Revis, they reached a compromise saving the taxpayers approximately $35 per home 2014. The 2014 budget was passed by the Council 4 to 1; the only NO vote coming from Councilman Gary Mastrangelo.
Though Mayor Budesheim and Councilman Mastrangelo strongly opposed the compromise, at the end of the 2014, Riverdale was left with a 17% increase to the surplus. This being the case, Councilman Pellegrini wasted no time in making his intentions clear. Taxpayers in Riverdale have been burdened with increases in taxes for 3 straight years and if there is any way pass a budget with a zero tax increase, he will find it. He quickly tapped the expertise of Councilman Carelli to help him draft what he and Councilman Carelli are calling their ZERO BUDGET.
Councilman Pellegrini distributed copies to the Mayor and Council for review and discussion. Though it was decided to save discussion until the other members had a chance to carefully review the materials, Public Safety Committee Chairman Steve Revis noted that he was pleased that the alternative budget fully-funded the 2015 requirements presented by Police Chief Kevin Smith and Fire Chief Dan Sturm.
It is important to note that tax increases are forever; a 2% increase will be paid not just in the year it is enacted but every subsequent year. This is because the increase is to the tax rate, not a fixed dollar amount. So when we get a tax increase this year, we keep paying that every year whether the town needs it or not.
Please come to the next Council Meeting at 7:30PM on Wednesday, March 11th at Town Hall and express your support for the Councilmen’s ZERO BUDGET.