The Town of Harrison reached its first union contract with the CSEA crossing guards unit for years 2010 and 2011. The unit only became unionized approximately five years ago, according to the town’s Personnel Department. File photo

New budget ups taxes past 4%

After a series of changes made to the 2014 budget, the town reached its second iteration for the upcoming year, bringing a higher tax increase than previously proposed.

With the tax rate increase now at 4.13 percent, the average Harrison homeowner will pay $6,182.38 in property taxes to the town next year—a $258 increase over the current year.

The numbers are based on the estimated average Harrison home value of $1.1 million, according to Town Assessor Mark Heinbockel.

According to Town Comptroller Maureen MacKenzie, the difference between the first and second iterations of the budget primarily comes from a more than $600,000 drop in assessed valuation.

Assessed value is the number combining property values and market conditions that are factored to determine the rate of taxes. The decrease in value caused the increases in taxes from the initial rate of 3.85 percent as first reported on Nov. 22.

Even with taxes projected to increase next year, Harrison still remains under the New York State mandated tax levy cap of 1.66 percent, according to MacKenzie.

New York State mandates that all local governments and communities abide by a tax levy increase limit of 2 percent or the rate of inflation as of 2011. Local municipalities can override the cap with a sixty percent majority vote of its governing body.

Along with the decrease in assessed value, a few increases were also included in the new budget, such as $1,217 in raises for each of the town’s two justices who hadn’t received raises in more than two years. The receiver of taxes and town clerk also received nearly $2,000 in raises.

Other decreases from the initial propsed budget include $40,000 in Social Security for the law enforcement department and a transfer of $55,000 to debt service.

The law enforcement department received a $15,000 increase for equipment maintenance and repairs in comparison to the initially proposed budget, as well as a $25,000 increase in insurance premiums.

The department, which accounts for more than a third of all salary increases for 2014, expects salaries to grow more than $260,000 in 2014 out of $666,000 in total salary increases budgeted for next year.

In total, town employee salaries, which account for 34 percent of next year’s budget, were increased drastically in comparison to prior years.

The public hearing on the budget is scheduled to continue at the next Town Council meeting on Dec. 19, when the board is expected to adopt the changes into the budget for the upcoming year.