Councilman Daniel Friedman Releases Statement on Passage of 2014 Budget And Comprehensive Deficit Prevention Legislation
Wednesday, 20 November 2013 13:43
This afternoon, I was proud to vote “Yes” on the final 2014 budget for the Town of Ramapo and passed “Comprehensive Deficit Prevention” legislation that I authored implementing strict internal controls. The final budget differs greatly from the originally proposed budget in many ways, including – most importantly – a much lower tax increase, the addition of budget cuts, several plans to increase revenues without increasing taxes, more realistic revenue expectations, and more. These changes and the associated enforcing legislation will prevent future deficits.
I applaud the Supervisor and Town Board for collaborating together on this budget, which reduces expenses, directly aims to prevent deficits, and established a multi-year forward looking budget plan for the town. The budgetary process was not easy and an incredible amount of time was spent on it over the last several weeks, but together, this Town Board made difficult decisions that needed to be made in order to pass a realistic budget that is responsible and will strengthen the financial position of Ramapo.
The 2014 Ramapo Budget includes the following:
Almost $300,000 eliminated from “Seasonal Salaries” across all departments
Over $125,000 reduced in overtime & consultant expenses
No salary increase for the Town Board and other elected officials for the second straight year
Renegotiated contracts to provide services at reduced costs saving hundreds of thousands of dollars
Several million dollars in revenue expectations cut across all departments & funds to make budget more realistic
Plans to increase revenue, primarily in Parks & Recreation, to meet revenue expectations without higher taxes
Over 20% tax cut from the initially proposed “Townwide” tax rate
An equitable tax increase just below 4.5% affecting all Ramapo residents equally
The “Comprehensive Deficit Prevention” legislation includes:
Required monthly reporting to the Town Board of all expenses and revenues in each department for review
Required bi-weekly reporting of line-by-line expenses and revenues from June – September
Town Board review of all submissions which may result in budgetary action limiting spending mid-year
The start of preliminary multi-year budgeting, with work on a draft for the 2015 budget already begun
The approved 2014 budget addresses all financial issues that were raised by the Town Board and its auditors, and follows the recommendations of financial experts to rein in spending, increase revenues, project realistic revenues, and not rely on property tax increases and will preserve services and prevent deficits.
While I have always deplored raising taxes, and voted against the 2013 budget for its tax increase, I believe that our residents are well served with this budget. At the outset of this process, I vowed that I would not vote for a budget that contained a large tax increase, or a budget that did not contain budget cuts. Today I have kept that promise. The fiscal changes that have been made by the Town Board in this budget are colossal, and the accompanying legislation will keep Ramapo on sound financial ground far past 2014.