LEWISBORO, N.Y. – For Supervisor Peter Parsons, running the town and maintaining its budget is all about the cash flow. The problem is, sometimes the cash doesn’t flow so easily.
In a recent report given by Joann Vasi, the town’s receiver of taxes, it was revealed that the town is owed $791,537 in back taxes.
“This is not about people who might be a month or two behind,” Parsons said. “These [bills] are all at least over a year late. Every one of them has a lien.”
As Parson and the Town Board struggle to balance the town budget, the supervisor points out that if the town had the $791,531 it’s owed, it wouldn’t have to borrow money to keep the town’s programs and projects up and running.
“We have to go out and borrow money to complete our ADA [American’s with Disabilities Act] projects,” Parsons said. “We could do it out of existing funds if we had this money. That’s a lot of money when you consider our budget is $11 million.”
Parsons explained that the town acts as the property tax collector not just for itself, but for the county and the Katonah-Lewisboro School District as well. He said all those entities must be paid first and in full, even if all the taxes have not been collected.
“[The town gets] just eight percent of all the real estate taxes, but we are responsible for collecting 100 percent of them,” he said. “Besides the county and the school district, we have to pay out to the fire districts, the sewer districts, the water district, and even at least one lighting district. They all depend on us for the money.”
That leaves the town having to juggle, and sometimes borrow, to keep going.
“It’s not like I’m going to one day say, ‘close the pool; we don’t have any money,’” Parsons said. “But it’s important for the board and the people to know about what’s going on.”
Parsons said the $791,537 debt is not unusual, but notes that just a few weeks ago it was significantly larger. The balance recently stood at $896,711, but Vasi was able to collect $105,173 to reduce it.
“Joann did a great job collecting that money; she’s been working hard,” Parsons said. “A lot of people think that the tax collector just sends out bills and that’s it. But it’s a lot more. She has to manage this whole thing and keep the cash flow coming.”