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Lewisboro Supervisor: Town Must Rethink Finances

Lewisboro Supervisor Charles Duffy equates the town budget to a family’s household budget. During the economic downturn, it’s time to start charging less on the credit cards and maybe even find a part-time job to bring extra revenue.

“With this economic environment we are in – just like any household – we have to rethink how we handle our finances,” he said. “And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing these past two years.  We have to figure out what we can afford, and put off the things we can’t.”

Duffy said the town can no longer take out bonds for projects it would like to undertake, such as the $2.7 million measure it floated in 2006 to renovate the town pool, and then worry about the debt service later.

“We have to stop and take a breath,” he said. “We have to worry about now.”

Duffy said the town has accumulated more debt in the past 10 years than it ever has before and he fears Lewisboro may be mortgaging its future. He said that before the town can really begin spending again, it has to wait for some of that debt to clear.

But it’s not enough to simply stop spending, the supervisor said. The town has to figure out how to garner more revenue.

One of the problems, he said, is that the town has been dependent on revenue from the real estate market, which has struggled mightily over the past several years.

“We received one percent for every new mortgage,” he said. “But there are not a lot of new mortgages these days. With the lack of overall [home] sales, it’s had an impact.”

Specifically, the lack of new mortgages has meant a drop in revenue of around $500,000.

The key, Duffy believes, is thinking smaller.

“We need smaller ideas [to bring in revenue] and ideas that don’t cost a lot to implement,” he said.

He cited things such as fees from the cell phone tower and the life-time pool permits. The pool permit idea has added $20,000 to the town coffers.

He also said improving the town government’s technology can help it to conduct business more efficiently, which can save money.

“For example, we don’t have voice mail. Our customer service is really lacking,” he said. “If we upgrade that, it will help us be more efficient and responsive in every department. It will allow the employees to support each other.”

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