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Good start to budget, but more needs to be done (April 25 - May 2)

Posted

To the Editor:

While I applaud the Village of Valley Stream board for rejecting a budget that pierced the tax cap, the revised budget raises questions and does little to reverse the trend that has led us into junk-bond status.

On the revenue side, the process of simply revising the budget has mysteriously caused the village’s interest revenue to increase by an additional 86 percent, with the original budget having already shown a projected 275 percent increase in interest revenue. Are these revenue figures valid?

On the appropriation side, 30 percent of the spending cuts from the original budget came from slashing $250,000 earmarked for the reserve fund, the refunding of which the credit analysts are looking for to raise our bond rating. Meanwhile, out of a $3.65 million parks/recreation budget, only $10 in cuts were found.

Which, by the way, were the only cuts from the original proposed budget. Parks and recreation will still see an increase of $120,000 in spending.

Additionally, even though the mayor campaigned on a platform that the Village would not bond again until it was out of its current financial straits, we are borrowing an additional $3 million under the heading “bond anticipation notes,” which may hold to the letter of the mayor’s campaign promise, but certainly not its spirit. We remain locked in a borrow-and-spend downward spiral.

At the April 15 public budget hearing ,the mayor announced the board had found the original proposed budget to be unsatisfactory. However, it was the very same board that scheduled a vote on a local law to pierce the tax cap in order to approve the original budget in the first place. This makes the last-minute switches look more like a capitulation to public pressure than an act of responsible governance.

The lesson is we need to apply greater public pressure in order to ensure the village’s once-sterling finances are restored.

Michael Steinke

Valley Stream