Brian Pugh: Mayor & His Majority Must Come Clean on the Budget

brian-pugh-group-croppedTo the Editor:

At the Monday’s Village Board work session, the ViIllage’s independent auditor once again gave the Village a clean audit–this time for the 2015-16 fiscal year. This should put to bed the disingenuous claims by Croton United maligning the fiscal management of the Croton Democrats.

Most recently, Croton United has attempted to weaponize the Fiscal Sustainability Committee’s report and portray it as an indictment of the former Democratic majority. Yet the FSC clearly stated in its December presentation: “This is not an assessment of the merits of issuing past debt or of the projects that were funded.”

One of my fellow Trustees claimed credit on behalf of Croton United in these pages for the “tax freeze” property rebate checks that were sent out to homeowners by New York State. He was half right at best.

Communities that stay below the tax cap are eligible for these “tax freeze” checks. However, our Village was only able to remain under the cap last year thanks to $19,000 “carryover factor” that the Village earned from the 2015 budget, passed by the former Democratic Majority Board. Simply put, the 2016 tax freeze checks were only possible thanks to the fiscal responsibility of the Democrats.

Back in October, one of Croton United’s candidates claimed that the CU majority had massively reduced Village borrowing. These claims were found to false by the independent, bipartisan Fair Campaign Practices Committee.

All of this spin is because Croton United has painted itself in the corner. They campaigned aggressively against “debt”. But once they gained power, they quickly approved some $8 million in new borrowing.

Since 2015, I have repeatedly challenged Croton United to drop the overheated campaign rhetoric and speak specifically to which projects will be cancelled and what trade-offs they plan to make to achieve their stated goals. So far, substance has been lacking. At some point, I hope they will take a break from politicking and get down to governance.

Sincerely,

Brian Pugh

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