While Sleepy Hollow’s operating budget had an approval deadline of March, the capital budget has no exact timeline, though some proposed, and potentially critical, projects depend on it.
Of course, the big ticket item on the agenda is building a new water tank with accompanying system upgrades, at a cost of $5 million, to bring our water supply up to the level deemed essential for our growing population and future development. This project has already gotten board approval.
The village will borrow all the money at once for this and other projects, along with items on the wish lists of various departments.
Every so many years, a big ticket item – like the senior center of past years and the water tank now – comes up. “It’s the nature of running a village,” Village Administrator Anthony Giaccio said. “There’s always large capital projects.”
Along with big projects, there are the requests for improvements to parks, new vehicles, and, perhaps most fought for this time around, the sagging bulkhead at Ichabod’s Landing.
The Board of Trustees is deliberating, “very seriously,” said Giaccio, over which items will necessarily fall by the wayside this cycle. With the water tank and all the wishlist items the loan could go up to $11 million, but Giaccio said, “but it can’t.” So some requests have to be denied.
Already likely to be denied:
- The village will not renovate Kingsland Point Park, as they see this as the county (the owner’s) responsibility.
- A few vehicle requests will likely not be granted, including a DPW request for a new dump truck.
- Bulkhead repairs may have to wait until 2015.
The bulkhead, said Giaccio, “is kind of the sticking point.”
James West, President of the Sleepy Hollow Manor Association, has submitted a letter to the board on behalf of his group, requesting this item stay in the budget.
“Our understanding is that it is the Village's responsibility to maintain this waterfront park," West wrote. "The RiverWalk is used by many members of the community, and we were disappointed to see it closed off this summer. It is clear that the bulkhead has deteriorated to the state that the RiverWalk is unsafe for pedestrians…. Sleepy Hollow only has a small area of the RiverWalk completed, but it is our hope that someday soon the RiverWalk will extend all the way North through Sleepy Hollow and beyond. Let's keep what we have already accomplished in useable shape and move forward on this project without further delay.”
To this, Trustee Karin Wompa offered the clarification that the RiverWalk itself wasn’t closed, only the outermost bulkhead section itself. “Until a decision has been made about the bulkhead, how and when we will begin repairs, it is only the bulkhead that will be closed off to the public for safety reasons,” Wompa said.
The board had planned to have a bond resolution prepared by next Tuesday’s board meeting, but Giaccio said that given that the capital budget didn’t even come up in this week’s work session, this is “highly unlikely.”
Citizens can more realistically expect a resolution by the first meeting in October, he said.
Though these millions are borrowed money, Giaccio said the sum has real impacts on the operating budget, as a certain portion of the operating budget is debt service that in turn impacts tax rates.
“The board is taking their time deliberating on which items get approved and which don’t; it’s a complicated process,” Giaccio said. “They are being very frugal. This is real money, even if it is spread out over time. But you can pay for things now or pay for them down the road.”
Trustee Wompa explained the urgency and difficulty of their task. With a water tank and related upgrades coming in at over $5 million compared with a typical capital budget of $600,000, Wompa said “everything is at stake.”
“The question is what else do we add on to the tax payers’ plate this year and what is needed by the village based on number of people affected, urgency and continuing to operate the village effectively for all residents," Wompa said.