East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell has unveiled his $73.5 million budget for 2016, a 2.75 percent spending increase over last year.
The budget includes $625,000 in additional funding for the hiring of three new police officers, one code enforcement officer, one fire marshal, one building inspector, and one assistant town attorney, after calls from the public this year for more work to control the summer’s relentless partying, especially in Montauk.
Mr. Cantwell said the cost of the new staffing is “entirely offset by the lower debt costs on bonds and the reduction in the Scavenger Waste District Fund.”
The town closed its scavenger waste plant last year and plans to pay off all of the district’s debt in 2017.
The total tax levy increase is 1.82 percent — $176,732 below the New York State-imposed tax levy cap.
Mr. Cantwell said in his budget statement that the $176,732 can be applied toward the town’s 2017 budget, “providing the town with additional flexibility to address issues in 2017 that arise during the 2016 budget year.”
“The 2016 tentative operating budget for the Town of East Hampton further improves the quality of life for our residents by providing funding to bolster enforcement of the Town Code and laws, addressing planning needs for infrastructure improvements, and ensuring that internal controls are in place to protect our assets,” said Mr. Cantwell in his budget statement. “This has been accomplished while maintaining the strong financial and budgetary controls that have resulted in the town achieving its highest credit rating in nearly ten years.”
Mr. Cantwell said other increases in the budget include $345,000 for employee health insurance, $65,000 for snow removal and $55,000 for workers compensation, but are largely offset by a $580,000 decrease in retirement contributions and $315,000 in reduced debt service due to refinancing and retirement of town debt.
If approved by the town board by Nov. 20, town taxes will increase by 1.67 percent for East Hampton residents who live outside of villages and by just .48 percent for village residents.
The owners of a $1 million home outside of villages would pay $34 more in town taxes next year and the owners of the same home within a village would pay $4 more in town taxes.
Mr. Cantwell’s budget also relies on slightly more than $1 million from the town’s fund reserve, down from more than $3 million in 2015.
The budget includes $50,000 for engineering for infrastructure improvements; $22,000 to upgrade the town website and $155,000 for water-quality monitoring and improvements.
It also provides funding for education and health initiatives, including $80,000 for The East Hampton Day Care Center, $35,000 for the Project Most after-school program and $5,000 for the Montauk Youth Program. It also includes $50,000 for Phoenix House’s substance abuse counseling; $25,000 for the South Fork Health Initiative, which focuses on mental health; $5,000 for The Retreat; $2,500 for the Pediatric Dental Fund and $5,000 for the East End Disabilities Group.
“This tentative budget provides the funds necessary for the education, health, well-being and safety of our residents; the fair and effective enforcement of our town code and laws; as well as protection for the environment and advances in infrastructure and technology,” said Mr. Cantwell. “The budget accomplishes a lot while not piercing the state-mandated tax cap. It keeps tax rates down and limits spending increases. We are achieving all of this by cutting costs and applying those resources to address the major issues of concern to the residents of the Town of East Hampton, today and in the future.”
The full budget is available online here.