To the Editor:
As we work on negotiating a final state budget for 2008-09, I have found that each week we are faced with more of a downturn in our economy and a lowering of revenues available to the state for inclusion in the new budget. In fact, last week Governor Paterson announced that he was eliminating $800 million in spending in the proposed budget. What is happening financially in New York is occurring throughout the country as well. Strong leadership is required so that the budget we eventually adopt will be lean and require some tough choices in terms of services for our residents. With less money available in this time of economic downturn, we must look toward cutting our expenses.
This difficult fiscal situation offers us an opportunity to look at and determine ways to save tax dollars and create efficiencies within our communities and our school districts. That is the reason I am sponsoring a forum on Thursday, April 10th from 3 to 5 pm at Cortlandt Town Hall. The topic is “Sharing and Coordination between School Districts, Municipalities, and the State to Realize Tax Dollar Savings.” State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will attend along with representatives of the Westchester County Association, Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES, and local officials to discuss issues and obstacles and to brainstorm possible strategies to implement savings through shared services. We need to adopt new policies and new ways of carrying out our school and governmental business to better manage and lower our property taxes.
It may not be easy to break down boundaries between our many school districts and municipalities but we must start to make these changes so that we can counter our high tax burden. Let’s work together locally to find real solutions. Please join me at the forum or watch the discussion on public access television. Your ideas, suggestions, and advocacy for change are crucial as we develop new approaches to serve all of our best interests.