BriarcliffFor the fourth year in a row, the Village of Briarcliff Manor has managed to keep its tax rate increase to under 2% for the vast majority of their residents. The 91% of the villagers who reside in the Town of Ossining will only see a 1.48% increase in their tax rate next year, though the 9% that reside in Mount Pleasant will be hit with a 6.08% increase. The difference in rates is due to the different Assessment Rolls and Equalization Rates between the two towns.
It is no accident that Briarcliff Manor has maintained such a low tax rate increase, as it is a Village priority. “The Mayor and Board are quite focused on keeping expenditures down,” says Village Manager Philip Zegarelli, “and in particular, the tax rate.” To that end, Zegarelli has overseen a near total restructuring of Village government in the four years he has been in Briarcliff Manor, cutting approximately 10% of Village
personnel through retirement incentive programs.
Since costs such as oil prices, health care, and pension costs continue to rise every year, any village dedicated to maintaining a low tax rate increase will need to find new savings in each budget. “We took little cuts here and there in virtually every department. But no program was eliminated, and all existing services are being maintained,” says Zegarelli. “I will tell you however, this budget is very tight. It’s functional; it can be done. It will be done. But, like most municipalities, this is a very tight budget.” The budget, at $14,198,049, is only $47,523 more than last year’s budget, an increase of less than 1/2 of one percent. This fiscal prowess is impressive, especially when you take into account that this ends up being only 11.3% of what the Village had available to them before running up against the tax levy cap. Briarcliff’s austerity can only help them achieve their five-year goal of upgrading their bond rating from its current AA2 status. “We wouldn’t be doing the right thing, and still trying to achieve an AA1 rating, by doing anything else but what we’re doing,” says Zegarelli, “and that’s protecting the Village’s balance sheet.”