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Port Chester Board Tables Budget, Adds Workshop

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. – The Port Chester Village Board of Trustees decided Monday evening to table its vote to adopt the 2012-13 budget and hold another work session on Thursday to fine-tune the spending plan.

The board held a work session on Saturday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. attended by only Trustees Sam Terenzi, Daniel Brakewood and Luis Marino. It was agreed that five of the six active members of the board will attend Thursday's work session, with Trustee Bart Didden saying he could not attend. Didden used Monday's meeting to present his ideas on potential budget amendments.

Trustee John Branca, who has been absent for weeks due to an illness, is also not anticipated to attend Thursday.

At the board's April 2 meeting, Village Treasurer Leonie Douglas and Village Manager Chris Russo presented a budget totaling $36,206,950. The property tax levy increase is cap-compliant at 2.4 percent and the budget-to-budget increase over last year's expenditures is 1.34 percent.

However, through almost three weeks worth of work sessions with village department heads, the board has proposed and discussed trimming the fat on numerous line items within the budget to further decrease expenditures and lower the levy.

The most unique aspect of the proposed 2012-13 budget is the implementation of a more equitable sewage rental system that Mayor Dennis Pilla said he believes signals a paradigm shift in the way residents pay for village services.

The proposed system shifts the way the village would charge for sewers out of property taxes, which would net the average village homeowner approximately $130 in the first year. Instead of charging based on assessments, the system would charge based on water usage – to shift the burden off the homeowner and onto commercial property owners.

The sewer rent, he said, would then be placed into a special enterprise fund to pay for $15 million in necessary upgrades to the village's sewer system.

Among the items discussed at Monday's meeting was the possibility of lowering the budgeted amount the village pays in property taxes from $190,000 to $90,000.

Mayor Dennis Pilla said the board will schedule a meeting for Monday, April 30, one day before the adoption deadline, to vote on the budget.

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