image14

Our Plan for Responsible Municipal Management

New Castle Democrats 2019 will support strategic, thoughtful, and coordinated governance to ensure the smooth functioning of our Town. Jeremy and Ivy currently serve on the Town Board, and have recommendations based on their experiences as Council Members. Jason serves as an elected Millwood Fire Commissioner and as a member of the Chappaqua Central School District Financial Advisory Committee, and has ideas from those local experiences as well. Our team has a proven record of leadership and is ready to continue leading! 

Budget

We believe that the Town of New Castle needs to create a true capital plan, starting with an inventory of all of our capital assets and infrastructure, including their age and current condition, and a plan for the maintenance and/or replacement of these existing assets. Capital budgeting should include forecasting up to 30 years. Both Ivy and Jeremy have suggested and sought such a long term capital plan.  Currently the budget only looks 5 years into the future.  As operating expenses grow and we dip into fund balances, as we did in 2019 due to the rising costs of services, we need a much clearer picture of what is on the horizon to ensure that we maintain our AAA municipal bond rating.


Due in part to our stewardship, the Town of New Castle is blessed with a balanced budget and healthy fund balances, but that does not mean capital projects should be funded from our operating budget. Nor should taxpayers shoulder the burden of paying for projects. When we are elected we will place priority on applying for – and winning! – State and Federal grants, and we will investigate low-cost financing options for capital projects.


The Westchester County Taxpayer Protection Act (2018) equalized sales taxes across the County and resulted in a corollary increase in funding for municipalities. In 2019, the Town of New Castle will receive an estimated $433,296 for August-December. In 2020, we will receive an estimated $939,679 in additional revenue. While no one wants taxes to increase, irrespective of the size of the increase, adding more than $1.35 million to our general fund is a tremendous opportunity to continue stabilizing our municipal budget without increasing property taxes and gives us the ability to pursue items such as increased road paving!


Residents in New Castle are reeling from the new SALT deduction limits. We must hold the line on property tax increases, as the Town has successfully done for 8 straight years, keeping Town taxes almost flat and never exceeding the property tax cap. As experienced leaders with knowledge of both the Town budget and public budgeting systems broadly we are the best team to lead the Town confidently into a future that is far from certain.


Looking forward, we would like to include residents in the process of determining how the Town spends money. Participatory budgeting is an exciting concept whereby residents can propose ideas that would improve public spaces and services in our community.

Boards and Commissions

We will diversify appointments to Town boards and commissions. We deeply appreciate all of our volunteers, and believe that board appointments should not be lifetime appointments. Vacancies should be posted and qualified candidates should be considered.


New Castle Democrats 2019 will improve coordination between the Town Board and volunteer Boards and Commissions, including instituting a regular cadence of meetings with each board and commission to review plans and provide support for their efforts.

image15

Communications

image16

Respect and civility will be the hallmarks of our administration. Our mindset will start from a simple mantra: “How can we help?” and our commitment to residents is to be responsive and fair. Communications should be a two-way street: the Town Board should not only be communicating about what we are working on, we must listen and respond to your issues and concerns.


New Castle Democrats 2019 will ensure that there is full transparency about Town Board meeting agendas, and we will post meeting minutes (not just video links). We will not vote to issue a bond or approve a major contract without proper notice. While our Republican Team New Castle opponents may think that putting “Award of Bid” in the fine print of a meeting agenda is adequate notice and good governance, we promise transparency and adequate notice for all Town Board votes both big and small.


As Town Supervisor, Ivy has committed to working from Town Hall, with an open-door policy and availability to meet with residents. You will be able to find her at Town Hall, not only on Facebook, just as Ivy and Jeremy are accessible now as your elected representatives. Town Hall is the people’s building, and we look forward to welcoming you there!

Responsible Regionalism

New Castle Democrats 2019 will improve intergovernmental cooperation with the State, County, and neighboring municipalities. Just as we have advocated for and pursued during our respective tenures, we will continue working alongside neighboring communities to increase shared services and piggyback off of good ideas from our friends and neighbors.


Furthermore, to reduce costs and save taxpayers money, when considering the question of whether the Town should perform a function “in house” vs. contractual services, we will strongly consider shared services. In particular we will investigate whether the County can provide a comparable services for less.  If the answer is "no," we will advocate with the County to restructure their services to provide better pricing to municipalities.


Our approach to governance will be collaborative and cooperative when it comes to working with our neighbors and the County government. We cannot afford to be isolationists in New Castle!

Performance Management

We will commit to tracking and reporting on progress in the 2017 Comprehensive Plan. This includes providing clarity on the priority and sequencing of the actions identified in the plan. We will define a scorecard approach to measure our success at achieving each goal.

In addition we will create a Town Annual Report that includes key performance indicators by department, so that residents have full transparency about the budget and operations of Town government. Once we have implemented a performance management program we will be able to move towards performance-based budgeting.

Conclusion

Our commitment to residents is to continue to hold the line on property taxes by improving the efficiency of Town services, identifying grant funding opportunities, and promoting shared services. Our unmatched knowledge of the Town budget, coupled with our training and experience with public budgeting systems, makes us uniquely positioned to lead New Castle.  With the cap on the SALT deduction, unsteady property values, and a federal administration that seems intent on punishing New York and other “blue” states, we must elect leaders who are ready to serve, not newcomers who will require “on-the-job training.” This is an important election year, and we are serious, qualified leaders with real records and substantive plans. We look forward to continuing to serve the community that we love. 

image17