The Peekskill city comptroller recommended the city borrow $3.4 million in order to cover costs associated with tax certiorari settlements and for immediate costs of the central firehouse at the council work session on Aug. 6.
“I recommend commencing the process for a Bond Anticipation Note (BAN) in roder to cover some of our expenses and ease the cash flow concerns,” said Charles Emberger, the comptroller.
The city borrowed $1.8 million for tax certiorari settlements in Dec. 2011, but has already paid $1,970,000. The city covered the $170,000 difference out of its general fund. But Emberger anticipates tax certs will cost approximately $900,000 more by the end of he year. He proposed the city borrow a total of $1.2 million to cover the tax cert costs.
The city had to pay settlements from 2005 to 2011, which is why the costs are significant, because the tax cert courts have been backlogged, Emberger said.
“The whole county of Westchester is in a similar boat because there have been so many tax certs, so they (the county) finally put a few judges on it to move it along,” Emberger said.
Emberger said that there few more condominium complexes tax certs to settle, which will present significant costs, some of which may be pushed into 2013, and a few commercial properties, which will not be as expensive. The city recently settled with owners at The Woods III condos, which cost about $300,000, Emberger said.
“It is alarming the amount of tax certs still in the pipeline,” Mayor Mary Foster told Emberger.
In order to cover costs associated with the firehouse project, namely architect and planning/design fees, Emberger proposes borrowing an additional $2 million.
The city has used $1,290,388 from its general fund for the project this year, an action that was planned. But Emberger had planned to issue a bond for a larger portion of the project, expecting the construction to have begun by now. Because have delayed the construction, Emberger suggested including the $1.2million cost into the bond anticipation note to cover the immediate costs the city faces. Emberger recommends using a loan for now and to then roll that into a larger bond for the project when the time is appropriate, he explained.
In addition to problems paying for the firehouse and for the tax certs, the city needs to purchase new Department of Public Works Equipment. For that, Emberger proposed a capital lease program for police cars.
“The City currently has $25,000 in capital for one car. However, for $36,000 per year, the city can lease three cars and maintain them by rotating cars in and our and passing along the older cars to various city departments. This would keep the budget flat and solely replace the fleet.”
To read Emberger’s full memo to the City Council, click on the PDF attached to this article.