HARRISON, N.Y. -- Candidates for the Harrison Town Board addressed town spending during a recent candidate hearing hosted by the League of Women Voters.
Republican incumbents Joe Canella and Marlane Amelio are running against Democratic challengers Rosemarie Varano and Margaret Pritchard. During the forum they addressed accusations that Harrison's budgetary process needs to be changed in order to curb spending.
Canella said that budgetary problems that Harrison has gone through were no different than what other towns went through during the economic downturn that started in 2008. However, he said that Harrison has managed to turn itself around, and has rebuilt its budget surplus.
"Our budgetary process is sound," he said. He said that the Town Board took efforts to control spending, and that the community rallied together. "The fact that we have rebuilt our surplus, from a negative of roughly $3.5 million to over $7 million, is a very good indication of how sound the town's budgetary process is and the economy of the town/village of Harrison is, and I think we can all take pride in that."
Varano said that the town needs to look at its spending and see where reductions can be made. She specifically mentioned the capital budget, and perhaps spending money to repair equipment instead of buying new equipment. She also said that some town employee salaries are out of line with other municipalities.
"My agenda for controlling spending and increasing revenue will be to take a look at some of those budget, take a look at the spending we're doing, come up with a better plan for our capital budget and see what myself and the board can do at that time," she said.
Pritchard said that the town is doing too much borrowing when putting together its budget. She said that when the town is putting together the operating budget, it needs to secure its capital budget at the same time. She said that when the town purchase capital items, there is too much borrowing from other accounts.
"That doesn't seem like it's good budgeting from my perspective. It means we're budgeting too much in areas we don't need to, and it might become part of what we're paying back in interest and principle," she said. "So I think we can tighten our belts and we need to tighten our belts."
Amelio said that investing in infrastructure is very important for the vitality of the town.
"Unfortunately what happened under the previous administration was that nothing was built, and we had to play catch-up," she said.
Amelio also said that the town was able to recently sign new contract agreements with its unions that will be beneficial to the town. "We are going to be saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in the next couple years on different healthcare provisions that we have been able to implement," she said.
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