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New Castle Candidates Debate Tax Cap, Planning Issues

NEW CASTLE, N.Y. – With the two candidates for New Castle Town Supervisor being former and current members of the town’s planning board, it was no surprise that much of the discussion at Thursday’s candidates forum centered around the term “master plan.”

Democratic candidate Susan Carpenter and Republican candidate Bob Kirkwood, each said part of their respective master plans involved working the budget around the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap. Carpenter said she will continue to try and keep the town under, despite several Westchester towns and villages already voting to override the cap.

“Obviously there’s things that can happen. We could have a terrible, terrible winter and have the choice of either plowing the streets or going over the tax cap,” said Carpenter. “Without a disaster, I would say we would make every effort stay within the tax cap.”

But a disaster is what Kirkwood believes the town should always be prepared for. The Republican candidate expressed concern over the lack of future planning done by the current government.

“Most of the low hanging fruit has been picked,” said Kirkwood of layoffs and retirements helping New Castle meet the cap for 2012. “At some point, you have to have people there to plow the streets. At some point you need someone to answer the phone. I applaud the town board for their work, but it’s a short-term policy.”

Tax talk also dominated the discussion when County Legislature candidates, incumbent Mike Legislator Kaplowitz (D–Somers) and Republican Yorktown Councilman Terrence Murphy(R,C, I) took the podium. One New Castle resident asked the candidates if they would be in favor of a revaluation of the town, in order to have a more balanced property tax between Millwood and Chappaqua.

Murphy said that although he liked the concept, he was concerned about the cost of reassessing the town. “Nobody’s willing to put up the money to do this,” he said.

Kaplowitz responded,  "It particularly crashes in when you look to segmentation. You look to the western side in Millwood and the Ossining School District. I wrote the law that amended the 1948 County Charter that allowed for school districts to have a segment rate. Should it be done? The answer is of course, yes. It's unfortunately the third rail of politics and there are local and county leaders and unfortunately at the state level that are not willing to touch it."

Thursday night’s event was hosted by The League of Women Voters. The event also featured a discussion between town board candidates Jason Chapin, Rich Diefenbach, Rob Greenstein and Elise Kessler Mottel, and town justice candidates Doug Krause, David Zuckerman and Kevin Moore.

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