Lewisboro will spend almost $12.9 million next year to keep roads clear, the public safe and pets licensed, the town board agreed last week.
At $12,863,495 the “solid, sensible” budget represents an increase of more than $700,000 over this year’s spending and calls for a tax-cap-compliant 2.85 percent increase in the tax levy.
That rise in the levy—the total property taxes Lewisboro collects—will mean a 3.52 percent increase in a homeowner’s tax rate, from the current $23.09 for each $1,000 of a property’s assessed value to $23.91.
A year ago, faced with dwindling cash reserves after years of applying those unspent dollars to immediate budget outlays, the town board voted to exceed the state’s mandated limit on tax-levy growth.
This year, after the county legislature voted both to hike Westchester’s sales tax by a penny and to share that revenue windfall—20 cents out of each new dollar collected—with local governments, Lewisboro remained comfortably below the state ceiling on levy growth.
“This year, why are we not breaking the cap?” Supervisor Peter Parsons asked rhetorically in an interview following adoption of his 2020 spending plan. “In large part [it’s] because the county has been a fairy godmother, with $700,000 in extra sales tax [revenue].”
That number is the county’s estimate of Lewisboro’s share of Westchester sales-tax collections. But that total is based on a notoriously uncertain variable called consumer spending, which remains subject to the cruel whims of such things as weather, wages and tariffs. The town will apply a chunk of the promised money to replenishing its frequently tapped fiscal reserve.
Parsons, who has been supervisor since 2012, acknowledged his town’s past reliance on the reserve, saying in the interview, “Lewisboro has lived right on the edge for years.”
With the new revenue source, he said, “This year, we’ve got a sensible, solid budget.”
It includes beefed up spending for police protection by some $81,000, to $1,056,468, and a $92,000 hike in highway maintenance to $3,792,147. Dog licenses are expected, again, to generate about $12,000 in revenue.
The town board, unanimous in agreeing on the spending plan but a member short in attendance at its Nov. 12 meeting, voted 4-0 to adopt the 2020 budget.
Their vote, more than a month ahead of the state-mandated Dec. 20 deadline to install a town budget, followed an advertised public hearing at which no one spoke.