By Eugenia Moskowitz
Washingtonville’s village hall was packed to standing room only on Jan. 25 as more than 80 residents came, many with children, at 4:30 p.m. to protest the possible 12 percent village tax hike proposed by Washingtonville’s Mayor David Heintz and trustee Joe Galante, who was recently reappointed by the mayor after having been voted out last election cycle.
The mayor had unveiled his initial proposed budget at a public hearing on Jan. 17, at which time residents said the budget, prepared by Heintz and Galante (trustees Joe Bucco and Tom DeVinko said they were not permitted to have a hand in it), was riddled with inconsistencies and questionable line item details, such as, resident Laurisa Sampson said, a jump from $7,000 to $11,000 (Mayor’s Personal Services), $200 to $2,000 (Postage) and $750 to $3,000 (Election Supplies), among many other items.
Heintz said multiple revisions had been gone through to bring the 12 percent figure down to 5.7 percent, which he stressed was still tentative. “We listened to the people on Jan. 17 and took that into consideration,” he said. “The village doesn’t have a strong tax base. It’s happening all over the state. I knew this budget was going to be a tough one.”
While the meeting was technically a board work session to revise the budget and try to get the tax hike lower, and was not open to public comment, Heintz said he would allow people to speak, at which point longtime resident Paul Lang and Nailed It Hardware owner Corinne Courtney brought up a line item of $3 million, with a difference of almost $350,000, which they said was extremely questionable due to a discrepancy between increasing and decreasing tax revenues. They said Heintz and Galante did not give a clear answer that they could understand, and the audience’s comments, which had already been vocal, grew in intensity, at which point Galante mumbled audibly, “I paid my dues.” While residents were not sure exactly what that referred to, nobody was happy about the comment, and people then shouted, “Nobody wants you,” and, “We voted you out.”
To read the full article see the Jan., 27 editions of The Sentinel and Orange County Post.