Local spending will remain within state guidelines

Proposed East End Budgets In Line




All five East End towns will adhere to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s property tax cap, which places a ceiling on how much property owners must pay from year to year. It varies but is typically in the two percent range and requires, among other things, taxpayer approval to breach.

As proposed by East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, the tentative 2020 budget is slightly higher than the 2019 final budget, at $81.87 million, an increase of 1.42 percent. Property taxes will increase slightly, as well. Those owning inside the Village of East Hampton will see their taxes rise by 1.79 percent, or slightly over 21 cents per assessed $100. All other owners in East Hampton will see their property tax go up by 2.29 percent, or a little under 71 cents per $100.

For example, noted the supervisor, a home inside one of the villages with an assessed value of $7000 (about $1.2 million market value) will see a town tax increase of about $14.84, or $841.61, total, and for a similar house outside a village the increase will be $49.42, for a total of $2207.59.

A new part-time job in the budget is that of greeter at Town Hall, at a cost of $20,000 per annum. The greeter’s job is to direct those who come to Town Hall seeking various permits or offices to their proper destinations, which has been deemed important because the town government complex is spread out between several buildings.

A public hearing for the proposed East Hampton Town budget for the fiscal year 2020 was to be scheduled by the town board at its Tuesday, October 15, work session. At a previous town board meeting, Len Bernard, the town’s budget officer, suggested November 7 as a practical date for the hearing, since the final budget needs to be approved by November 20, under state law.

Southampton

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman is proposing a $99.4 million operating budget for 2020. The town board members will tweak it in the coming weeks.

The bottom line maintains and improves the level of services to the community, controls increased in expenditures, adjusts for declining revenue, continues investment in infrastructure, and remains within the state-mandated two-percent tax levy cap.

The tentative budget provides tax payers with a six-percent tax rate reduction, but sees a three percent overall increase in spending: a new position in the land management department (environmental analyst) and two in the parks and recreation department (recreation director and parks maintenance personnel). “The costs associated with these new positions are offset by increases in fund revenues and do not require an increase in the tax levy,” Schneiderman said.

“This is the largest tax rate reduction I’ve ever been able to deliver,” said Schneiderman, who has delivered a number of budgets with Southampton and East Hampton as the former supervisor for that town. “It’s very difficult to get below the three-percent increase in spending, although it is slightly under, unless you’re going to lay off people and reduce the services you provide, which ultimately will probably lower property values and increase crime rates and things like that.”

The supervisor added a growing tax base with properties and new additions coming onto the tax rolls balances the three-percent increase in expenditures. Property values have also increased across the board, although there’s been a freeze for the next two years while the town evaluates its system to see if it can create protections for people on fixed or moderate incomes.

Revenue decreases have been seen in the anticipated mortgage tax, waste management, and justice court.

Schneiderman said with China no longer taking recyclables, and Southampton not charging for residents to bring theirs to the recycling center, the town must pay the difference, although not as much as municipal solid waste, but still seeing a $1 million shortfall this year, which is accounted for in the 2020 budget.

“I have to make that up, and we’re going to have conversations during the year as to what we want to do about it,” Schneiderman said. “Meanwhile, from the budget model, assuming the town doesn’t want to close the recycling centers, I have to bring in $1 million into that operation to be able to meet the operational costs.

“The town’s investment in law enforcement and public safety though has decreased major crime 47 percent. The Hampton Bays Water District members will see a 10-percent rate increase to pay for infrastructure work — the addition of an iron and manganese filtration and tank rehabilitation — that needs to be done, according to water district managers, town engineers, and independent engineers,” the supervisor said.

Adoption of the budget needs to happen on or before November 20.

Southold

Southold Supervisor Scott Russell has proposed a $48 million budget, $445,000 above the current budget. The tax rate will rise 1.62 percent, easily within state mandates.

For a median property with an assessed valuation of $6000, that translates into a tax increase of about $35 per year.

Russell has two capital projects he’d like to advance: $250,000 for sidewalks on Fishers Island and $500,000 for sidewalks in Southold.

The town board will have a chance to tweak the numbers before the annual budget meeting on November 6.

Riverhead

The 2020 Riverhead Town budget calls for a 2.5-percent tax levy increase and a 1.17-percent increase in spending.

Including those, the total town funding comes to $100.4 million, an increase of 2.76 percent.

For a home with an assessed value of $50,000 — $400,000 on the open market, taxes would rise about $70 per year depending on the location of the house.

Generally, town taxes account for about 30 percent of overall property taxes, second to school districts, which amount to 60 percent. County and special taxing districts, like water for example are among the items that make up the remaining 10 percent.

Riverhead Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said the budget stays under the state tax levy cap while providing essential additional services and improvements to the town’s infrastructure. It must be passed into law by the second week of November.

“This budget gives our employees the tools to best do their job by investing $1 million in long neglected town infrastructure and capital improvements,” Jens-Smith said in her budget message.

Shelter Island

Shelter Island is one of the few townships on Long Island looking to spend less money, though a proposed 15.7-percent decrease has been pared down to about 5.3 percent. The budget currently sits at about $8.82 million.

rmurphy@indyeastend.com