Category Archives: Finance

Debt: Harrison’s History of Borrowing

For more than a decade, Harrison has faced a growing crisis—a debt crisis.

By the end of 2012, the town owed nearly $80 million. For a community of roughly 25,000, the Town/Village of Harrison’s debt level, which rivals some cities, has become a polarizing issue.

Whether you find yourself exploring the hillside streets of West Harrison, or shopping in the central business district downtown, you’re sure to spot something, somewhere that was a contributing factor to the town’s financial plight.

First seen in the July 19, 2013 edition of the Harrison Report


Voters approve $108M school budget

Voters in the Harrison Central School District passed its $108 million budget with 71 percent of all votes cast on May 21. As a result, tax bills will increase by 3.7 percent next year.

The 2013-2014 budget comes with no reduction to class size and no program cuts, but necessitates minimal layoffs to come in under the state-mandated 2 percent tax levy cap. According to unofficial tallies, 1,385 residents voted “yes” and 553 voted against the budget.

“We have consistently tried to meet our dual commitment of providing a comprehensive education while being responsible to our taxpayers,” Schools Superintendent Louis Wool said on Wednesday regarding the results. “The Board of Education would like to thank our residents, and express our profound appreciation for the support of our students that came from every corner and neighborhood of the community.”

The spending plan marks the second time in history that the budget passed in the polls of each of the four voting districts in Harrison.

After a series of reductions totaling more than $2.25 million, the district approved a $3.79 million increase in spending from last year for a budget-to-budget increase of 3.6 percent. Reductions included decreases in certiorari and capital budget lines, decreases in social security, unemployment, contractual services, the cost of fuel and several other cuts for smaller budget line items.

By eliminating vacant positions through attrition and through the implementation of a teacher retirement incentive, the district was able to minimize the need for layoffs in the budget, with plans to cut only one to two positions.

First appeared in the May 24, 2013 edition of The Harrison Report.

Increase in state aid funding restored to HCSD

The Harrison Central School District’s reduction in state aid has been restored in its entirety despite a missed state deadline to file an annual teacher and principal performance evaluation plan.

School officials were given the formal approval of their evaluations from the state Education Department on Jan. 22, five days after the filing deadline. The state’s decision came after a debate with school district and state officials 15 minutes before the deadline regarding a measure added to the requirements of high school principal evaluations that take the percentage of students admitted into a four-year college into consideration.

First appeared in the April 5, 2013 edition of The Harrison Report

Tax Challenges Down, Still A Hurdle For Harrison

The Town/Village of Harrison saw a decrease last year in a number of tax challenges it received, but still faced a costly burden of refunding back taxes.

After hitting a record high in 2011–with 10,596 tax appeals–the number of county residents filing tax grievances reported a slight decrease last year. Westchester County Clerk Timothy Idoni recently reported a total 9,068 small claims assessment review or SCAR petitions, filed among 38 municipalities in 2012.

“A decline in the volume of appeals means less stress on local tax rolls,” Idoni stated in a press release. “When appeals are granted or settled, it forces municipalities to identify equivalent reductions in spending or unpopular increases in revenue.”

Story originally appeared in Jan. 25, 2013 edition of The Harrison Review.  

Harrison Holds $61M In Debt

As the Harrison Town Council mulls a $56 million budget for 2013, a bill for roughly $61 million in debt waits to be paid at a later date.

With interest rates at a record low, the Town Council has been of the view it is a good time to borrow. As $5.3 million in bonds came off the books this year, new bonding replaced it, according to Town Mayor Ron Belmont, a Republican.

“Whatever is coming off, we’re putting right back on,” Belmont told The Harrison Report in June.

Originally appeared in the Dec. 14, 2012 edition of The Harrison Report (Now, Harrison Review). 

Harrison Water Rates Hiked 17 Percent

The Harrison Town Council approved a 17 percent water rate hike on July 5, just days after a relatively nominal–yet nonetheless dramatic– 11 percent increase was estimated by town officials.

The 3-2 approval of the new rates came after representatives of Westchester Joint Water Works made a public presentation, which had several members of the council scoffing at the fiscal management of the utility.

The Westchester Joint Water Works, a utility jointly run by municipal leaders in Mamaroneck and Harrison, proposed the town approve the hike for the 2012-2013 fiscal year in order to keep up with the increased cost of supply from New York City, where the water works purchases its water. The city increased its sales rates by 9.8 percent.

This originally appeared in the July 13, 2012 edition of The Harrison Report. 

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