Doing More With Less…4 Village Governments – Irvington

Irvington Village sealEvery year, the Villages in the Rivertowns do more with less as they stretch the taxpayer’s dollar further and further. Recently, the State-mandated 2% tax levy cap has squeezed the Villages in a financial vise, leading to staff vacancies and the cutting of non-essential programs. The coming 2014-2015 fiscal year, however, promises to be even harder, as the Villages will have to contend with what is estimated to be an even smaller tax levy cap. “It turns out that under the State law, [the tax levy cap] is 2% unless inflation is less than 2%,” explains Tarrytown Village Administrator Michael Blau. “If inflation is under 2%, it’s whatever the level of inflation is.” Current estimates indicate that the rate of inflation for the year will be 1.66%, so the Villages are preparing for a tax levy cap of 1.66%.

As the municipal fiscal year runs from July to the following June, December –  the half-way point – is a good time to evaluate how we’ve done so far, project what the second half of the budget year promises, and what residents can expect as the 2014-2015 budget process heats up.


It is the tale of two tanks.

In the 2012-2013 Budget, one of the largest capital improvement projects was a new 600,000 gallon water tank on Mountain Road. With that project successfully completed, the Village now turns it’s attention to the existing 1,200,000 gallon other water tank. “Our second water tank [on Riverview Road] is in need of repair. Not replacement, repair,” says Irvington Village Administrator Lawrence Schopfer. “We’re right now in the middle of the design for that, getting the bid documents together. We expect to go out to bid sometime in the spring.” From there the plan is to have a contract in place by the summer, so that the work can be done in the fall.

While repairing a water tank may seem like a less expensive job than getting a brand-new one, Schopfer warns that is not the case. “It’s actually a bigger tank, it’s about twice the size,” he says. “Dollar-wise it may actually be a similar-sized project, on the order of $1 million.”

Water also figures in another large capital project facing Irvington. “I think the biggest project that we’ll be facing in the next year or so is the exterior repairs and restoration of Village Hall,” says Schopfer. “There are outright gaps in between bricks where mortar is missing, so wind-driven rain water gets into the building. There are terracotta pieces that are cracked and are ready to fall. These are significant issues with the building that need to be addressed.”

Though the project is listed in the capital budget, its funding – expected to cost between $1.5 and $2 million – has not yet been formally appropriated by the Board of Trustees. Village administration has presented the Board with an interim report on the condition of the building, but the Board has not yet finalized its plans.

The Board will have to weigh the possible need to acquire a new bond for the Village Hall renovation against the expected 1.66% tax levy cap and the difficulties the cap presents. “It’s not going to be a particularly easy year,” says Schopfer. “I would expect that the Board of Trustees will probably be facing a number of difficult and possibly contentious issues. I will do everything I can to present them with a budget that is not over the cap.”

Beyond budgetary issues, a 2014 priority is reinvigorating its affordable housing committee. “We had a committee that lost a little steam because we had some members who were unable to really commit the time to it,” says Schopfer. The Village is currently working with individuals from the Pace University Land Use Law Center in White Plains and hopes to breathe new life into the committee by the end of the year.

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About the Author: David Neilsen