A week after some Port Jefferson residents called on village officials to keep any tax increases as low as possible in next year’s budget, the board of trustees did just that when they approved a $10.2 million spending plan Wednesday night that complies with the state-imposed cap on tax levy increases.
The budget will raise taxes by $0.46 for every $100 of assessed value on a property. That number comes in just below the village’s tax levy increase cap, at 1.68 percent.
At the time of a public hearing on April 6, the village had been working with a budget draft that would have carried a 4 percent tax increase, even after the board slashed more than $300,000 in expenses during budget workshops. The hearing was on a measure that the trustees ultimately passed that night to give themselves the authority to pierce the cap if necessary — something Port Jefferson has done each year since the state cap was enacted. But some residents implored the board to better control taxes and stay within the cap this time.
Treasurer Don Pearce said at the public hearing that in order to meet the cap, the village would have to cut out more than $140,000 in expenses or add revenues to the spending plan. On Wednesday night, Pearce said the village took residents’ comments and whittled down the budget further to close that gap.
Pearce reported that the 2015-16 budget will represent an increase of about $217,000 over the current year’s budget, which means that the village’s mandated expenses — like employee retirement contributions, health care costs and payments to the local ambulance company — are increasing more than the budget itself.