The Mayor of the Village of Haverstraw, Mr. “Bud” Wassmer, recently wrote a letter to the editor in the Rockland Journal News. His letter stresses the need for unity in Village, amid calls to disband the local government and merge with the Town of Haverstraw (unincorporated). HaverstrawLife.com would like to make it known that it does not support the disbanding of the Village of Haverstraw. A Village is needed to maintain the character of our community, and to foster a true sense of community among neighbors. It would be an absolute mistake to remove the local government, in that taxes for all would surely rise in the Village. The Wassmer Administration has kept taxes the lowest in the entire county, even throughout the Mirant Scandal. Please, think before you call to dissolve your own neighborhood and community. Join with HaverstrawLife to celebrate unity and community in the Village of Haverstraw! The Mayor’s letter is here:
(Original publication: April 7, 2007)
In a March 25 Journal News article (“Haverstraw village proposes tax reduction”) concerning the 2007-08 Village of Haverstraw’s 2.3 percent real estate tax reduction, a village resident correctly stated that a dramatic increase in school taxes has impacted all local taxpayers.
That same resident’s suggested solution of doing away with the Village of Haverstraw is totally incorrect and completely misguided. Village of Haverstraw taxes have not risen in six years and are proposed to be reduced 2.3 percent or more this year. No other Rockland County municipality can match this accomplishment. Most other real estate taxes in Rockland County have increased from 25 percent to 50 percent over the same seven-year period.
The Village of Haverstraw has been able to weather the loss of the Mirant Power Co. taxes and hold the line on taxes for seven years. We accomplished this by a combination of careful planning, waterfront development and merging the police department with the cooperation of the town. This has saved our taxpayers thousands of dollars. Had we implemented a 7 percent tax increase each of the past seven years, the average taxpayer would have paid out an additional $ 3,308 above and beyond what they actually paid.
The dissolution of the Village of Haverstraw is a simplistic solution that will not work. Sometimes people need to be careful what they wish for! The village’s dissolution does not eliminate village debt, which would be paid only by village taxpayers. Also, the dissolution statute allows for the dissolved village’s taxpayers to be billed separately for services in addition to paying full town taxes. The end result would most likely be very little tax relief in exchange for having no voting control. (Village taxpayers have 100 percent say in the village, but would have only one-third of the voting voice in the town).
Before jumping to the wrong conclusion, village taxpayers should get the facts and understand all the ramifications of abolishing the Village of Haverstraw after 153 years. There is no quick fix to high taxes except the type of action taken by myself and the village board in holding taxes level during the last seven years.
The writer is mayor of Haverstraw.