Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tax hikes raise ire of villagers 

The creation of this village four years ago has come back to haunt its residents in the form of ever rising taxes.

"It's too much," said Kristen Santer, a Capitol Hill subdivision resident, after learning that the village's initial proposed budget included a 15 percent tax increase. "Plus, our taxes for the town are going up 8 percent."

The village, after an outpouring of anger from residents, revised its proposed tax hike to 9 percent.

Mayor Rob Jeroloman said the spike comes mainly from fees owed to the Town of Blooming Grove and which the village still contests, even though it has signed a contract to pay. "It's a very tough hit, and we're very upset about it," he said.

Blooming Grove's supervisor, Frank Fornario, said village officials are being disingenuous about the underlying reason for the tax increase — incorporation of the village itself.

Created in 2006, largely to prevent the neighboring Hasidic community of Kiryas Joel from expanding, South Blooming Grove is a tax behemoth in the making, he argues.

That's because the cost of fixing huge infrastructure problems, such as dilapidated roads and rotting water systems, as well as the cost of fighting the Hasidic developers, must be paid for by a small number of taxpayers.

Jeroloman insists this is not the case. The proposed tax hike results mostly from a surprise $71,000 fee increase for town highway services, and not from any additional costs, he said.

The town has not offered a detailed breakdown of the increase, which the village was forced to accept or risk losing the services, he said.

Critics of village incorporation have long argued that more layers of government lead to more costs, as well as to turf battles over services between sister municipalities. Such seems to be the case in South Blooming Grove, as well as in the Village of Woodbury, which was also formed in 2006, largely for the same reasons.

Incorporation supporters contend that costs can be contained if municipal leaders cooperate more.

Santer will pay $803 in village taxes, up from $746 a year ago, on her $375,000-plus home. That comes on top of an 8 percent increase in last year's $1,964 town tax bill, she said.

She was a strong proponent of village incorporation, and still believes it was the right thing to do. She seemed less certain of the ability of her municipal leaders to act reasonably in order to avoid more costs. "Unfortunately, as often seems to be the case in politics at every level, ego, money and power often cloud the judgment of those we elect," she said.

The village votes on the final budget Monday.


Better they should take advantage of living in the Hasid community in Riverdale, Bronx. Rumor has it that there is going to be a new synagogue at the now vacant facility on Broadway and 251st. Street. The owner tried to make it a night club years ago but it didn't work.
Apparently talks have begun for rent and renovation. Let's see where it goes.


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