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Public Hearing on Harrison Budget Set for Thursday

HARRISON, N.Y. - Residents will have their chance to be heard Thursday night when the Harrison Town Board holds a public hearing on the 2012 budget .

Mayor and Supervisor Joan Walsh filed her draft of the budget last month. She said the numbers were difficult to gather.

"Harrison continues to experience material adverse changes to its fiscal condition and faces the same challenges as all local governments across the nation, including higher operating costs, unfunded state mandates and falling real property assessed valuations," Walsh said. "Significant increases for pension contributions required by the New York State Retirement System, increased major medical costs, debt service and fuel costs amount to more than a $1.2 million increase in operating costs from the 2011 budget to the 2012 budget."

Walsh said the continued economic downturn means that several town/village non-property tax revenue line items such as mortgage tax aid, building department fees and interest earnings are expected to remain flat or in line with their 2011 levels.

One entity being supported in the draft spending plan was the Harrison Police Department.

"Public safety is on everyone's mind and it is important for Harrison to maintain and improve its already excellent Police Department," Walsh said. "Police Chief Anthony Marraccini has requested, and I support, one additional police officer to raise our complement to 60 police officers, two promotions within the police department that will enhance our command structure and strengthen our detective division and three civilian dispatchers in order to release police officers for patrol and community policing."

Town/Village Comptroller Maureen MacKenzie said the goal for the budget has been to develop the most cost-effective ways to service the town.

"Every line item in the budget has been scrutinized," MacKenzie said. "This budget does not rely on any 'one-time' revenue items such as the sale of real property or use of fund balance in order to be balanced. Instead it has focused on examining operating costs and revenues and works towards creating a balance between the two."

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