So Aileen has a sharp pencil and Joe wants to continue the tax cap if they are in office. It is questionable if they comprehend the serious effects this legislation has on the town and the services. According to a the town's finances, the mortgage tax dropped over $700,000 since it's peak in 2004 and it is projected to drop even further with the amount of foreclosures. The following was printed in the Poughkeespsie Journal on October 5. Dismal but it's preferred to have it told to you straight than make promises of 'sharp pencils' and stating that they hope to continue it (the law) while in office.

HYDE PARK — A 2012 budget proposed by Supervisor Tom Martino would mean fewer police on patrol and significant delays in removing snow from town roads to meet the new 2 percent property-tax cap.

The proposed $7.34 million budget Martino drafted with the aid of town Comptroller Michele Zagorski would cut spending by $578,471. This is done mainly by cutting $405,112 from the police personnel services line item — a 31.5 percent reduction — and slashing the highway snow removal line item by $102,484 — a 30.6 percent reduction.

The tentative cuts translate into the elimination of five to six police officers — one-third of the force, said Councilman Michael Taylor, R-4th Ward.

"It would totally devastate the town's ability to protect its citizens," he said.

Hyde Park Highway Superintendent Walt Doyle said the cuts in snow removal and other line items would equate to the layoff of at least one of his 11 motor equipment operators. He said this would delay snow removal from town roads.

"We're already one guy short," Doyle said. "It would be catastrophic if they cut any employees from the highway department."

But the Republican supervisor cautioned his 2012 preliminary budget, which would reduce spending by 7.9 percent, is just a starting point of the process. It is up to the full Town Board to review, make any changes and adopt a spending plan to operate the town government next year.

"Because of these difficult and uncertain economic times, the 2012 preliminary budget was very difficult to put together," Martino said. "The Town Board will have its work cut out for itself when putting together the final 2012 budget based on the input of the taxpayers of town."

Town police Chief Charles Broe said he will refrain from commenting on the budget as the Town Board members begin their review.

"It's my understanding it's a tentative budget at this point, and I'm certainly hopeful something can be worked out," he said. "And I also understand what they are up against."

Hyde Park, like other municipalities across New York, faces a new fiscal challenge. The state Legislature this year enacted a cap on how much the annual tax levy can increase of 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.

Martino said that besides the tax cap, a downturn in revenues required him to propose the spending cuts. For one, he projects an $80,000 decline in mortgage-tax revenue next year.

The proposed tax levy of $5.01 million actually exceeds the 2 percent cap by 1 percentage point. The tax-cap legislation, the comptroller said, lets towns exclude from the levy calculation pension contributions due to increases in the statewide contribution rate over 2 percentage points. Also excluded is growth in the tax base due to new construction.

Martino noted the budget does not include spending any rainy-day funds to offset the tax-levy increase. He is estimating by year's end there will be $968,157 in the general fund and $57,368 in the highway fund.

"During the budget adoption cycle, the Town Board may decide to allocate a reasonable amount of fund balance to restore services that are cut under this budget," Martino said.

Neither Martino nor Taylor said they would rule out overriding the tax cap to restore some spending. The state law permits towns to exceed the cap if at least 60 percent of the board — three of five members in Hyde Park — vote to do so in adopting the final budget.

"We are keeping our options open," Martino said.