Clarkstown residents face 6.2 percent property tax hike

Clarkstown Town Hall on Maple Ave. in New

Clarkstown Town Hall on Maple Ave. in New City. (Feb. 15, 2012) (Credit: Angela Gaul)

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Residents of Clarkstown are being asked to shoulder some of Rockland's budget woes with a property tax hike of 6.2 percent, nearly half of which is due to added costs passed on from the county, according to the town's 2013 preliminary budget released Friday.

"The unstable financial state of the County of Rockland has negatively impacted the financial resources of the Town of Clarkstown and all other Towns for 2013," Clarkstown Supervisor Alexander Gromack said in a statement.

In 2012, Clarkstown lost about $1 million in reimbursement for the Rockland County Drug Task Force and the Intelligence Unit. In addition, there were charge backs from the county that the town had to foot, including $600,000 associated with Rockland Community College and another $450,000 involving the Rockland County Board of Elections.

The town's total budget for next year is set at $137,301,805.

Clarkstown officials are also keeping their eyes peeled for further cost shifts from the county next year that could top $1 million, including those that involve the mosquito control programs, storm drain treatment, the purchase of police radios, and property taxes on vacant land, Gromack said.

In 2012, Clarkstown used $2 million in surplus from its tax stabilization fund to cover additional county costs, Gromack explained, up from its normal rate of about $1.2 million to $1.4 million annually in years past.

Besides picking up county costs, Gromack also outlined a series of other payments that will see increases. For example, pension and health care costs for civil service union employees are expected to rise a total of $1.6 million next year.

At the same time that costs are going up, officials are looking for ways to streamline government to cut spending, Gromack said.

The one piece of good news, according to Gromack, is that services will not be on the chopping block.

"Despite increasing county costs, we continue to make fiscally responsible decisions trying to reduce the cost of governing without reducing services," Gromack said.

Clarkstown's S&P credit rating stands at "AAA/stable."

In Rockland County, all town budgets for next year are to be unveiled by Monday. The county's budget is due Oct. 23.

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