Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman presented a budget plan on Sept. 23 that would reduce taxes, but would also pay for seven more staff positions and provide for more infrastructure improvements.
Mr. Schneiderman, who presented the budget a special town board meeting Sept. 23, said his proposed budget “is structurally balanced — revenues and expenditures match up.”
He added that the proposed 1.6 percent decline in taxes is larger than anyone in town hall has seen in recent memory.
His $94.7 million budget comes on the heels of six years of no tax increases under his predecessor, Anna Throne-Holst, who made significant cuts in town staffing and debt under her tenure.
While the total budget will increase by 3.9 percent, taxes will decrease due to “increases in the tax base and increases in other revenues such as mortgage tax revenues and user fees,” according to Mr. Schneiderman’s budget message. The full budget is available online here.
The budget also includes a reduction of $7 million in bonded indebtedness, but the seperate capital budget includes $8 million in new spending, including $3.2 million for road and highway infrastructure improvements, $1.4 million for upgrades to beaches and parks, $1.3 million for upgrades to emergency management, $1.2 for upgrades to town fueling facilities, $1 million for management studies and $500,000 for bulkheading of town trustee property.
“This is typical when you have as much infrastructure as the Town of Southampton,” he said.
Mr. Schneiderman said he also plans to restructure some town departments, adding a new Department of Public Safety, responsible for code enforcement, animal control, fire marshal and emergency preparedness staff.
Mr. Schneiderman said code enforcement officers currently report directly to the town attorney’s office.
“There no head of the department and no clear chain of command,” he said. “A Director of Public Safety would provide a more direct relationship to a function extremely important to our quality of life.”
Mr. Schneiderman also plans to instate an Office of Housing and Community Development, a division under land management, to “help bring in more grants and provide oversight to the town’s housing authority.”
Mr. Scheiderman said the seven staff members he’s proposing bring total town staff numbers up to 518 — still far lower than the 554 staff members the town had in 2008.
The positions include one new police officer and one new public safety officer, both paid for by sales tax revenue that he worked as a county legislator to receive from Suffolk County.
It also calls for two new maintenance mechanics in the town’s parks department, who would be assigned to care for Good Ground Park in Hampton Bays.
“The town has a lot of acreage. We don’t have enough personnel now and now we’re adding Good Ground Park,” he said. “It wouldn’t be fair to residents of Hampton Bays to not provide adequate funding for this new park.”
The staffing increase would also include the aforementioned Director of Public Safety and Director of the Office of Housing and Community Development, as well as one clerk/typist to serve both directors and a new part-time code enforcement officer.
A public hearing on the proposed budget will be held at the board’s Oct. 25 meeting at 6 p.m. at the Hampton Bays Senior Center.