Story by Lourice Angie
The Warwick Town Board held two public hearings prior to the start of their regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thurs., Oct. 25.
Before the start of the public hearing, Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton explained that the state regulation that created the two percent tax cap affirms that if a municipality was to go over the state cap, a local law needs to be enacted every year. The Town of Warwick’s preliminary budget currently stands slightly over four percent.
“We’re going to hopefully vote to exceed it, not knowing that we will, but in the event that we do, we will have at least passed the law,” said Sweeton.
Ray Wasnieski, a local resident who lives on Newport Bridge Rd., addressed the Board saying, “There’s a law saying two percent cap; you‘re supposed to keep the budget within that. If you can’t run a household, you can afford things. I just don’t understand. It’s a beautiful Town, but we’re getting bled to death between school taxes and now this.”
Supervisor Sweeton explained that since the tax cap has been in place, they’ve been able to maintain it or stay under. It has become increasingly difficult with state requirements and increases for health and retirement. Just those increases alone take the Town to the cap, which is $200,000. In addition, the Town must ensure that the Police Department and the Highway Department are funded.
“We feel the pressure and pain of our residents who pay high taxes. If we can find additional cuts, we’re going to make those cuts to get us down,” said Supervisor Sweeton.
Councilman Mickey Shuback, a long time Warwick resident also commented saying, “In the Town of Warwick, we don’t have enough money to maintain the roads. We’ve gone over the tax cap by over two percent. If you look at it it’s ridiculous. I have more calls about how bad the roads are. To fix one mile on a road, it costs more than $100,000 a mile and there’s over two hundred and thirty miles in the Town of Warwick. We do two or three miles at most and that’s all we can afford. It should be much higher than that. We don’t have forty years to do them all.”
The Town Board considered all public comment and determined that the adoption of the said local law was in the public interest. Local Law #10 of 2018 to Exceed the Two Percent Property Tax Cap was adopted by the Board to override the tax levy limit on the amount of real property taxes that may be levied by the Town of Warwick, Orange County, and the State of New York, pursuant to General Municipal Law Section 3-C, introduced on Oct. 11.
2019 Preliminary Town Budget Hearing
A budget hearing and presentation will be held by the Town Board on Thurs., Nov 1 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall, located at 132 Kings Hwy. in Warwick. After reviewing the budget, the Board is focused on public safety and infrastructures. Supervisor Sweeton feels they’ve funded those adequately but not excessively.
The 2019 tax cap amount for the Town is $286,298. The Town Board has worked diligently to cut approximately one million dollars from what was proposed in the tentative budget. The Town’s NYS mandated health insurance and retirement contribution for 2019 has increased to $302,988 and $251,967, which is almost twice the cap amount.
Supervisor Sweeton says that even with the Board’s best efforts to grow non-property tax revenue, this increase pushes us over the cap.
The Board then focused on public safety and infrastructure investments to ensure their obligations to our citizens are met.
All department expenses were kept flat with the following exceptions: The Board has budgeted to hire two police officers in 2019 and to purchase two police vehicles so that the necessary safety of our citizens is provided, and an additional $100,000 has been budgeted for road work and $50,000 to upgrade the Town’s fueling system, which also supplies fuel for the Village of Warwick as well as some of our fire and ambulance services. Sweeton also plans to obtain a new plow truck secured for us by Senator John Bonacic.
“This budget, with these essential investments and mandated State contributions, places us 1.4% over the tax cap. As presented, the budget reflects an increase of about $16.50 per the average house assessed at $50,000 in one of the Villages and $51 per average house in the Town,” said Sweeton.
“We’ve cut approximately $1,000,000 from the tentative budget, which was the budget proposed to us in the beginning as we collected requests from departments. Our mandatory health insurance and retirement contributions are 10 and 16 percent respectively. The health insurance alone takes the tax cap, and that’s the issue for us,” added Sweeton.
A copy of the 2019 preliminary budget is available for viewing at the Town Clerk’s office or online at the Town website at www.townofwarwick.org.
Public Hearing on Acquisition of Development Rights
A 250 acre sub preliminary approved subdivision farm known as “Warwick Views,” located on Bloom Corners Rd., slated to have 52 homes on it, is being sourced by a local farmer who farms on the lowlands of Prices Switch Rd. The farmer intends to purchase the farm and add it to his current operation where he raises beef cattle and more. Supervisor Sweeton says that the Town has submitted an application to the NYS Farmland Preservation Program for 75 percent of the funding. The Town would match the remaining 25 percent through Community Preservation Funds (CPF).
“A public hearing must be held in order to decide whether or not to move forward with the process” said Sweeton.
Carry Out Bag Law
Supervisor Sweeton announced that the carry out bag law cannot be on the November ballot. Several months ago the Town of Warwick Board held public hearings about proposing a “Carry Out Bag” law that would impose a five cent fee for each plastic bag residents used to put their groceries in at supermarkets in the Town of Warwick.
Shortly after the hearings were held, the Board said they would put the proposed “Carry Out Bag” local law on the ballot as a referendum this November for residents to decide. After more research was conducted by the Town Board on the State level and through advice of legal counsel, the Board has rescinded the resolution to put the proposed law on the ballot. It was determined on the State level that a referendum to impose this was not a legitimate issue to be placed on a referendum. According to the Town Board, in New York State, the Board is a representative government elected to represent the people and this was not a subject that could be put on a referendum so it was withdrawn. This issue should be addressed on a County or State level.
The Town of Warwick will once again impose a Halloween curfew against congregating and loitering by those 18 years of age and younger to begin at 8 p.m. on Tues, Oct. 30 until 6 a.m. on Wed., Oct. 31, and on Wed, Oct. 31 from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Thurs., Nov. 1. This is done in conjunction with the Village of Warwick to ensure that younger children can enjoy Halloween and our neighborhoods. Supervisor Sweeton anticipates that the evening will be free of mischief.
Election Inspectors Needed
Warwick Town Clerk Eileen Astorino reported that the Board of Elections was in desperate need of and seeking election inspectors to assist with the upcoming general elections on Tues., Nov. 6. Applicants must be residents of Orange County and be registered voters. Training classes will be held at the O.C. Board of Elections Office, located at 25 Court Ln. in Goshen on Thurs., Nov 1 from 2 to 4 p.m. or 6 to 8 p.m., and on Sat., Nov. 3 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Election inspectors can earn a salary of up to $225 a day and receive $25 for attending training classes. Astorino reminded everyone to vote on Tues., Nov. 6.
Warwick Valley Humane Society Celebrates 50 Years
Councilman Floyd DeAngelo reported that the Warwick Valley Humane Society (WVHS) will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the shelter. A special celebratory brunch will be held at the Landmark Inn on Sun., Nov. 4 from 12 to 3 p.m. by reservation only. The cost is $50 per person. Proceeds from the event will benefit the animal shelter’s much needed rebuild project to expand the facility and provide proper ventilation and housing for the homeless pets.
To make a reservation, make checks payable to the Warwick Valley Humane Society and mail to P.O. Box 61, Warwick, NY 10990 on or before Thurs., Nov 1, with “Birthday Brunch” written on the memo line.
Next Town Board Meeting
The next Town Board meeting will be held on Thurs., Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Warwick Town Hall, located at 132 Kings Hwy. in Warwick NY.