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.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst proposed a 2016 budget on Tuesday that includes a zero percent tax rate increase for the sixth year in a row.

Her budget is proposed to total $91.1 million, up from $88.5 million last year. The budget must be adopted by Nov. 20 after input from the town board and the public.

Ms. Throne-Holst’s budget includes four new job positions throughout town: two police officers, an environmental analyst in the Environmental Conservation Division and a mechanic for the Hampton Bays Water District.

If adopted as is, the budget will carry a tax levy of $59.3 million, an increase from the $57.5 million levy in 2015.  The increase in the levy reflects an increase in assessed value or properties townwide of approximately $2 billion or 3.5 percent, which generates an addition $1.8 million in tax revenue without changing the tax rate. The tax rate would be $1.42 per thousand dollars of assessed value, or $710 for a house valued at $500,000.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst
Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst at a recent public hearing.

“It is a significant goal of this year’s budget to continue the long tradition of preserving and protecting what we cherish and to provide the necessary infrastructure to extend those protections in the face of more contemporary demands,” said Ms. Throne-Holst as she presented her budget, the last that she will prepare for the town, to the town board Sept. 22.

Ms. Throne-Holst plans to step down as supervisor at the end of this year in order to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

She pointed out in her budget presentation that the town’s ever-increasing year-round population, and the visitors who double or triple the population in summer, create “new demands on roads, housing, beaches, open spaces, surface and ground waters and town services and infrastructure.”

In each of her six budgets, she said, she had three main goals: to provide structurally balanced budgets, to implement operational and procedural efficiencies, and maintain investment in infrastructure and services.

Ms. Throne-Holst said in her budget statement that priorities in the budget include funding to support planning work for the Riverside Revitalization Action Plan, funding for a special prosecutor assigned specifically to code enforcement issues and continued funding for a contract with Stony Brook University to develop water quality protection strategies.

The town is working with Stony Brook Professor Christopher Gobler on developing a nitrogen household footprint tool and on calculating the amount of nitrogen that must be stopped from flowing into each of the town’s water bodies.

Capital projects prioritized in the budget include funding for road repair and equipment for the highway department, funding for the repair of the pier at the old Ponquogue Bridge and for Good Ground Park in Hampton Bays, funding for park improvements and upgrades to police emergency communication and computer systems.

Ms. Throne-Holst said the town will appropriate $2.4 million from the 2015 fund balance, but will maintain fund balances in the town’s large funds at more than 17 percent, at levels consistent with this year.

She estimated a 10 percent increase in county sales tax revenue, a $250,000 increase in mortgage tax revenue, which she said is “reasonably and conservatively below” the revenue expected next year.

Ms. Throne-Holst’s budget expects $45 million in Community Preservation Fund revenue. She said that, while the town budgeted $42 million in CPF revenue this year, they are expecting to receive closer to $65 million.

The full budget is available on the town’s website here.

All East End town supervisors must turn in their preliminary budgets by the end of September.

 

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she 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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