The board of trustees took incremental action in the 2021-22 village budget process Feb. 9, approving hikes in the recreation department’s fees and charges, including a pool membership increase of 12.5%. The board also passed a precautionary resolution to schedule a public hearing to authorize a real property tax levy in excess of the New York State cap, should the budget plan require that. The trustees also postponed a vote on the resolution to rename the Crossway Field complex after longtime youth football coach Rippy Philipps.

Pool fees to increase

The 12.5% rate increase boosts family pool permits to $616, individual permits to $371, weekday family permits to $455, weekday individual permits to $265, single use permits to $153. Guest admission will go up to $14.

In addition, 100 nonresident permits will be available at double the resident rate.

In January, Superintendent of Parks and Recreation Brian Gray proposed raising recreation fees and charges for 2021-22 by as much as 30% for municipal pool passes.

With a depleted fund balance due to infrastructure malfunctions at the pool, the recreation department decided to raise fees based on last year’s usage data. With New York State mandating a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour and a decline in the sale of pool passes, the department has had to use fund balance annually to balance the budget.

After receiving information and data Jan. 28 on use and conditions of the municipal pool complex, the proposed increase was reduced to 12.5%.

During public comment Feb. 9, Black Birch Lane resident Bob Berg said he was concerned that raising the pool fees would further decrease membership and revenues. He said the fund balance needed to be rebuilt, and not replenished in a single year.

“This is not necessarily about dwindling or reducing our pool enterprise fund balance. It’s gone. It’s negative, there is a deficit,” said Trustee Justin Arest. “This is not really about restoring it in one year.”

Fox Meadow resident Bob Harrison, who has opposed raising pool permit fees, suggested that residents only pay a 5% increase by May 1 and then have a 15% increase thereafter to push residents to buy permits early.

“This 12.5% increase I do not agree with, I think it’s a mistake. I think it’s going to hurt membership,” said Harrison.

Mayor Marc Samwick said the trustees had asked Gray whether a discounted rate had any value for the department, but found that it did not.

“It was something we explored and [it] was … deemed to be of no benefit to the village to do it that way,” said Samwick.

Public hearing on tax cap

The trustees unanimously passed a resolution Feb. 9 to schedule a public hearing in case the village’s real property tax levy should go above the tax cap for the 2021-22 budget.

Arest said the board passed the measure because it was “preserving optionality” — not because it specifically intends to override the tax cap.

“I cannot personally imagine any scenario where we should or would raise taxes anywhere near or above the tax cap,” said Trustee Jonathan Lewis.

Villages are statutorily required to pass a budget by May 1 and must hold a public hearing if the municipality plans to go over the New York State tax cap.

The second pass $60.3 million 2021-22 budget is just under the tax cap with a $1,827,432 gap.

This year, the New York State tax levy gap is $1,891,083.

Samwick said the board had no intention of going over the tax cap, but said in the past he had been on boards that had passed the tax cap resolution because there are “tangible penalties.”

“Avoiding those penalties has very real value to the village and its tax base,” said Samwick. “I think we can have that discussion when this comes back around in two weeks.”

Arest questioned why the board would vote on a tax cap resolution when the board could pass a resolution any time after holding a public hearing.

Village treasurer Ann Scaglione said she supported having the public hearing and that the board wouldn’t need to adopt a resolution unless the board was planning to go in excess of the cap.

“We’re certainly leaving a cushion where if it’s the will of the board not to exceed the tax cap we would not need to pass this resolution in my opinion,” said Scaglione.

Crossway renaming postponed

A large assemblage of residents mustered up to show their support Feb. 9 for renaming the Crossway Field complex after longtime youth football coach Rippy Philipps. During the virtual public comment portion of the board of trustees meeting, more than 15 people spoke in support of the measure, including former Scarsdale student-athletes and Philipps’ coaching colleagues.

The board has received more than 100 emails in support of renaming the field after Philipps and multiple residents shared their support in a previous article in the Inquirer [“Community rallies to honor longtime volunteer,” Jan. 29].

The board voted to hold over the resolution Feb. 23 to give the public additional time to comment.

“Naming a field is hopefully forever, unlike the Tappan Zee Bridge,” said Trustee Lena Crandall. “We really just want to make sure that we get this right.”

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