As part of setting the record straight, I would like to point that my public statements regarding the Town budget problems follow two years of unsuccessful attempts to resolve such matters privately with Supervisor Toni Hokanson. I first met privately with the supervisor to discuss the issue of improper taxes in January, 2006. Since then, while she has gradually fixed some improper taxes, the Supervisor has added new ones, so that the actual cost to Village residents for such improper taxes has increased under her administration. Finally, in 2008, when dismissing my concerns regarding these budgetary practices, it was the Supervisor herself who made the matter public. There is still a broad, on-going pattern of improper ‘A’ fund taxation of Village properties for Town services that Village residents do not receive. These practices are illegal and unethical, and need to be brought to an end. The fact that it is illegal, but not criminal, makes resolving the problem complicated.
The misstatement of the over all 2011 tax rate increases was not a stand alone “error.” In presenting the 2009 tentative Town budget Supervisor Hokanson had stated that it would be “a less than 4 percent increase.” In fact that budget represented a 15.6 percent increase in the general ‘A’ fund tax rate and a 7.9 percent increase in the general ‘B’ fund tax rate. In the Nov. 4 NPT; on page 14 the budget story states that the Highway Town Department budget has a 0 percent increase. This statement is incorrect; over-all the aggregate highway budget increase is about 17 percent. There are two highway funds, the highway “A” fund for which Village homeowners are taxed and the Highway “B” fund which is paid for by tax on properties outside the Village. Last year’s Highway “A” fund was $50,870 and the tentative 2011 Highway “A” fund is proposed to be $376,811. This is a 641% increase in the Highway “A” fund, a far cry from the 0 percent reported in the NPT. This increase is primarily a result of Supervisor Hokanson improperly taking the entire cost of Town snow plowing out of the Highway “B” fund and putting putting it in the “A” fund, making Village residents pay for the cost of clearing roads that they never travel on.
The supervisor’s statement that, “he spends more time criticizing me and scrutinizing everything I do than doing his own job” is absurd. This IS my job. I am the chief elected representative of all Village residents, and under New York State Village law §4-400.1.b, it is my explicit responsibility “to provide for the enforcement of all laws.” It is my responsibility to protect Village residents from wrong doing such as the town supervisor’s practice of levying illegal and unethical taxes on Village residents.
There are three Towns in Ulster County that have a Village within their borders; Wawarsing, Saugerties and New Paltz. The Town and Village of Saugerties especially have had a long, co-operative and respectful relationship. They are a model of how a Town and Village can and should work together, and this is reflected in the scrupulously honest and ethical budgetary practices of the Town of Saugerties. Of these three towns, only the Town of New Paltz engages in illegal and unethical budgetary practices, such as the illegal and unwarranted tax levies, which penalize Village property owners. The 2011 Town budget has to be adopted in a week; all of these illegal and unwarranted Town taxes on Village property owners should be removed from the budget.
Village of New Paltz