East End Town Budgets Toe a Tight Line

This is The Beacon's stock town budget photo. If the budgets start to bother you, just look at the photo.
This is The Beacon’s stock town budget photo. If the budgets start to bother you, just look at the photo.

Across the East End, town budgets under negotiation are keeping tightly within New York State’s tax levy cap.

With budgets due to be enacted by Nov. 20 and most public hearings on those budgets already drawing little comment from the public, perhaps the most concern lies in Riverhead, which is focusing on several “one-shot” revenue sources to close a $4 million budget hole.

Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter has proposed a $91.5 million 2015 budget that would raise the tax levy 2.1 percent but would raise taxes by about .6 percent due to a town-wide increase in assessed value of houses.

That increase would translate into about $13 for a house worth $300,000.

Mr. Walter cut his budget by $800,000 due to 11 retirements, and included $775,000 in projected revenue from sale of the town’s Second Street firehouse and East Lawn office building, and included $750,000 from two energy contracts still under negotiation at the Enterprise Park at Calverton at the former Grumman plant that is now owned by the town.

His budget also calls for the town to use $5.5 million in fund reserves, including nearly $3 million in Community Preservation Fund money to pay down the town’s CPF debt.

No one spoke at the public hearing on Riverhead’s budget Wednesday.

Riverhead’s tentative budget is online here.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell’s first proposed budget was deemed this week by the New York State Comptroller’s Office to be a “reasonable” one. East Hampton’s budgets must be reviewed by the state comptroller as a result of deficit financing the town acquired several years ago.

Mr. Cantwell’s $71.5 million budget, available online here, carries a 2 percent tax rate increase for residents outside of East Hampton Village and a 3.2 percent increase for residents inside the village.

For a house valued at $550,000 outside the village, town taxes will increase by $23.08, while a house of the same value inside the village would see an increase of $14.32.

“My goal in formulating this budget has been to integrate prudent budgeting and financial planning while improving code enforcement, protecting and improving environmental quality and assisting those who depend on certain town services,” he said in his budget statement.

Mr. Cantwell’s budget includes more food and hours for cooking staff at the town’s senior centers, a new part-time youth program coordinator, and $25,000 to fund the South Fork Behavioral Health Initiative to work on mental health issues.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell’s proposed $42.9 million 2015 budget includes a 1.45 percent tax levy increase.

“The financial outlook for Southold Town in 2015 is good,” said Mr. Russell in his budget statement. “Revenue from all sources has not increased and this budget does not contain unrealistic expectations.”

Mr. Russell suggested the town board continue to look into innovate revenue sources similar to the planned leasing of a portion of the town’s capped landfill in Cutchogue for a photovoltaic solar array.

Southold is also planning to hire eight new police officers, six immediatly and two after officers who are already in the force retire.

At a budget hearing Wednesday, only Ray Huntington of Cutchogue had anything to say about Southold’s proposed budget.

“You did a good tight job that is reflective of our economy,” he said, but urged the town board to re-instate the highway department’s fall brush pickup program, which has been nixed from the budget for several years now.

Mr. Russell said he’s not comfortable with that idea.

“We scaled our work force based on certain things we’re not doing anymore,” he said. “There are a tremendous amount of work hours involved in those pickups…. It’s the same time we’re putting up snow fencing and other things need to get done.”

Southold’s preliminary budget is online here.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst has continued her goal for the past four years of presenting a structurally balanced  budget including a zero percent tax levy increase.

Her proposed $88.5 million budget included an additional $3 million for eight new employees in law enforcement-related roles and for using $1.3 million of town’s healthy $29 million reserve funds.

“the degree and quality for which the town can provide for public safety, safe and well-maintained roadways, clean and accessible beaches, parks and public spaces — and a host of other services that support and improve the quality of life for our citizens — depends on our ability to provide that sound financial footing,” she said in her budget statement.

Southampton’s preliminary budget figures are online here.

Town boards throughout the East End have until Nov. 20 to adopt their budgets.

 



Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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