Clarkstown residents to shell out more in taxes

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Homeowners in one Hudson Valley town are bracing for a major tax increase meant to offset the effects of a failing economy.

Clarkstown?s $130 million proposed budget calls for a 4.6 percent tax hike, which would translate into a $150 increase in property taxes since last year.

In 2008, the tax hike amounted to 3.1 percent, but like other municipalities, Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack says the town is struggling to make ends meet.

"We're not collecting the mortgage taxes that we did the last two years, the interest that we get on income is down $600,000; the mortgage tax is down $800,000," Gromack says. "The assessment of our homes [is] down because of the economy."

Instead of eliminating essential services, however, the town found a way to tighten its belt by shaving more than $3 million off the original budget and laying off municipal workers to curb spending.

"We have 14 less people working for the town of Clarkstown in ?09 than were in the ?08 budget in an effort to bring the cost of government down," Gromack says.

But some local homeowners say the measures taken by town officials are not enough.

"It?s very hard to make ends meet,? says Ken Rosenberg, of New City. ?I worked on Wall Street, got downsized out of a job, now my taxes are going higher; you feel like you're being pulled on both ends, and it's very tough."

A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for Nov. 6, after which the town board will adopt a final budget.

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