Tags Posts tagged with "2017 Budget"

2017 Budget

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Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine. File photo by Erika Karp

Brookhaven Town is one of many municipalities being forced to tighten its belt for 2017. Faced with the unenviable task of crafting an operating budget for 2017 with very little leeway to increase revenue from taxes, the town released its tentative budget for the coming year at a board meeting Sept. 29.

The town’s tentative operating budget for 2017 stands at just under $282 million, which represents a $1.8 million increase over the adopted 2016 operating budget.

Despite a state-mandated tax levy increase cap of just 0.68 percent, a contractually mandated 1.5 percent increase in salaries and a projected increase in health benefits of more than 9 percent for town employees, the budget will maintain all town constituent services and quality of life enforcement resources, according to a statement by Supervisor Ed Romaine (R).

“The strength of this town and its finances continues thanks to the hard work of all of our [councilpersons] and to the hard work of our Finance Commissioner Tamara Wright and [Chief of Operations] Matt Miner,” Romaine said during the meeting.

Wright presented the budget to the public during the meeting, which she called the most difficult of the nine town budgets she’s worked on to date.

“As the supervisor indicated, this budget is in compliance with the New York State tax cap, which is at an unprecedented low for the 2017 fiscal year,” Wright said. “It was a challenge to meet that, but we’re very pleased we were able to stay within the cap.”

The town was granted a AAA credit rating by Standard & Poor’s Financial Services earlier this year. Romaine and Wright both said maintaining that rating played a roll in the budget process.

“We have significantly reduced the use of surplus to balance the budget, using only $3.1 million this year,” Wright said. “That is a significant reduction over our previous years and it is what Wall Street and the credit rating agencies look for to maintain as AAA. This particular budget continues to build on the principles we’ve been putting in place over the past several years that have lead to the AAA rating, and I’m confident that it is going to allow us to keep it as we move forward.”

One area that saw an increase in funds for 2017 was snow removal, which now stands at just under $6 million.

“If we do have a year of little snow, we hope to be able to move some of that budget over to highway maintenance [budget] lines to increase the spending there if we don’t need the snow budget,” Wright said.

The town was able save money by eliminating 13 full-time positions, which were left vacant primarily by retirements and resignations during the course of the year, according to Wright.

The town board will hold a public hearing and vote to approve the tentative 2017 budget Nov. 10 at 5 p.m.

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Smithtown Town Hall. File photo

By Sara Ging

Smithtown released a $103.2 million budget at a town board meeting Oct. 4, which stays within the 0.68 percent tax levy cap, includes no layoffs and is an overall increase of about $2 million from last year’s budget.

Supervisor Patrick Vecchio (R) proposed the use of surplus funds to establish two capital reserves: $2 million in open space preservation, and $2 million to establish a sewer fund.

“Both of those will go a long way to improve Smithtown’s quality of life,” Vecchio said at the meeting.

The reserve for open space preservation would provide funds for the purchase of sensitive land or land that can be sanitized. The supervisor said there is a need for more open space in the town, and this reserve helps keep money aside when space becomes available. There are no specifics for the sewer system yet, which Vecchio called a “rainy day fund,” also saying that if the money is not used, it will be absorbed in next year’s budget.

Unlike the nearby Town of Huntington, Smithtown’s proposed budget would not pierce the state property tax cap — residents would actually experience a small tax reduction under this plan as compared to last year. According to the town, the budget increase between 2016 and 2017 is partially offset by an increase in last year’s revenue from mortgage taxes, both from new home sales and from refinancing.

The funding of most departments is “status quo,” according to Vecchio. Policies to lower maintenance and energy costs, such as the use of LED lighting, are also credited with financial savings in the past year.

The highway department received $5.5 million in paving funds, which allow for the paving of 30 miles of roads in 2017. In addition, $750,000 is included for sidewalks.

Proposed salaries for town board members include about $111,000 for the supervisor, and almost $66,000 for each of the four town council members.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. at the Eugene A. Cannataro Senior Citizen Center on Middle Country Road in Smithtown.

Additional reporting by Victoria Espinoza