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Pictured above, left to right: Village of Port Jefferson trustee Rebecca Kassay; trustee Lauren Sheprow; Mayor Margot Garant; Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden; and trustee Stan Loucks. Photos by Raymond Janis

The Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees unanimously approved the annual budget Monday evening, April 3, though appropriations weren’t top of mind for the sea of residents crowding the boardroom.

Dozens turned out to confront the board over its recent decision to extend the terms of service for village offices from two to four years — a decision it promptly reversed. Less than 90 days until village elections, the community and board instead now grapple with the competing demands of streamlining election administration and public oversight over term changes.

“We wanted to kind of say ‘sorry’ and take a giant step backward,” Mayor Margot Garant told the public.

Upon rescinding the resolution, the mayor noted the need to relieve village clerk Barbara Sakovich in administering the coming June elections, adding that neighboring municipalities have generally implemented such changes. 

“Probably the majority of other townships and municipalities — villages specifically — have their elections in March and have moved to four-year terms,” she said. “I think it’s the direction we may all agree to at some point,” but the board is “taking pause” before rendering further judgment.

Trustee Rebecca Kassay offered to begin exploring how other municipalities procedurally implemented term changes, keeping open the possibility of forming a committee to collect public input on the matter. 

“Please look probably to the next meeting if you want to get this going while everyone has it in mind,” she said, adding the board “will be talking more about the process of helping to gather resident input and really handing it to the residents to make these decisions.”

In the wake of the reversal, Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden and trustee Lauren Sheprow, both mayoral candidates, offered their commentary. Snaden said she had a change of opinion after learning of the high signature threshold to move the measure onto the June ballot via permissive referendum.

“It just made sense to me at the time, again, because of the ability for the residents to come forth and let us know,” she said. “After that happened and I heard from some residents — what the numbers were for them to bring forth the permissive referendum, that’s when I said that’s burdensome.”

The deputy mayor added, “We’ve had discussions, and we talked about bringing it tonight and considered rescinding and starting from scratch, giving it to you guys to say to us what you want to do.”

Sheprow raised the possibility of the village acquiring electronic voting machines ahead of the June elections. 

“What we didn’t realize when we were meeting, and it really wasn’t discussed holistically at the last meeting, was whether or not there are voting machines available to rent or purchase,” she said. “As long as they’re certified by the Suffolk County Board of Elections, we have that option available to us.”

Leaders of the recently resurrected Port Jefferson Civic Association made formal contact with the village government, exchanging introductions and outlining their organizational agenda. 

Civic president Ana Hozyainova thanked the board for rescinding the resolution for term extensions but asked for more public input over village decision-making.

“The civic association didn’t take a stance on whether it should be two or four years but really took objection to the fact that such an important issue which doesn’t have a clear-cut solution … was taken without any public debate,” she said, adding that more public deliberations over fortifying the eroding East Beach bluff could have occurred.

The board approved $0.50 increases in managed parking rates for weekdays and weekends, setting the rates at $1 per hour Monday through Thursday and $1.50 per hour Friday through Sunday.

Budget highlights

Village treasurer Denise Mordente delivered the fiscal year budget presentation, highlighting the budgetary constraints imposed by rising inflation and costs, also declining public revenues from the Long Island Power Authority through the Port Jefferson Power Station.

“The interest for our [bond anticipation notes], gasoline, heating oil, all of that ties in,” Mordente said. “We tried as best as we can to not put the burden again on the taxpayers.”

The budget increased by 7% from last year from $10.59 million to $11.37 million. However, the village drew $257,882 from its $1.8 million fund balance to minimize tax increases, Mordente explained. The village lost roughly $107,000 through the LIPA glide path agreement, with 15% and 20% increases in medical benefits and insurance, respectively.

The village committed to reductions in staff, opting against filling some vacant positions while assigning multiple titles to existing personnel. The administration also instituted a spending freeze for department heads, who stayed within their respective budgets from last year.

“The overall for our tax increase on an average house of $1,500 [assessed valuation] is $75 a year,” Mordente said. “We’re trying not to impact the way of life for our village.”

The Board of Trustees will meet again Tuesday, April 18, at 3 p.m., with scheduled presentations from Johnson Controls and the Six Acre Park Committee.

To watch the full general meeting, see video above.

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File photo by Heidi Sutton

By Jim Hastings

The main order of business at the Village of Port Jefferson board meeting March 21 was the proposed budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year which begins June 1. The board is looking to approve the piercing of the 2% village property tax cap and raise it to 4.5%. Mayor Margot Garant said the piercing would be needed to recoup much of the loss brought on by the LIPA settlement, which equates to $122,383 a year.

The board discussed how 2.7% of the budget would go to union contracts. The removal of brush in the village and care of the sidewalks would total $118,000 and $150,000 respectively. The cost of snow removal, along with the purchase of sand and salt, was factored in. Sand and salt saw an increase of $10,000 over last year’s prices due to inflation. The village purchased two Bobcats to remove snow; the equipment was leased in the past. One of the Bobcats was paid for by the Business Improvement District, the other by the village.  

Garant discussed the Port Jefferson Country Club. Due to the erosion situation with the tennis courts at the edge of the cliffside, the club’s tennis pro has been forced to teach elsewhere throughout the village. $50,000 is budgeted for that. More on the country club will be discussed at the next meeting. 

Trustee Bruce Miller brought up the current greenkeeping situation. He posited the need for a professional gardener to care of the village’s flowerbeds and green spaces. Garant praised village gardener Caran Markson and the parks department for doing a great job, and for the continued handling during Markson’s medical leave due to injury on the job. No decision was made about a replacement at the meeting. 

Garant congratulated the board for its work on the budget, noting that the village is AA rated, which means it has a “very strong capacity to meet its financial commitments,” as defined by S&P Global Ratings.

The proposed budget will be posted five days before the next public hearing, which is to be held April 4.

Other points of business

• Parking in front of the post office: A vote was taken, and it was decided that two of the four spots in front would change from 10 minutes only to two hours.

Parking in the village: Paid parking begins on April 1 and continues until the day after the Dickens Festival in early December. Pricing will remain the same at 50 cents per hour Monday through Thursday and $1 per hour on the weekend. 

Long Island Explorium: Noting that some of the space is underutilized, Garant floated the idea of using some areas, like the upper balcony, for live music.

Recharge basin between Old Homestead and Oakwood roads: There has been a delay in the crushing of stone for the basin due primarily to a shortage in the workforce — most notably truck drivers.

Rocketship Park bathrooms: The facilities are still under construction but on track to open on April 1. 

Recreational activities: The Recreation Department ordered 16 more kayaks for Centennial Park beach. There is a proposal to bring pickleball to Texaco Avenue Park which would see the creation of two pickleball courts on the existing basketball court area. Summer camp is open to village residents until May 1 and will then be opened to nonresidents after that at a higher price. Summer camp is open to Village residents until May 1 and will then be opened to non-residents after that at a higher price.

Ed Romaine. Photo by Kyle Barr

Residents within the Town of Brookhaven could see a 1.89% tax hike for 2022 if the newly released potential budget gets adopted in November, staying within the state’s 2% property tax cap.

According to the tentative operating budget, all major tax districts are structurally balanced, and no fund balance is utilized to balance the budget for the six major tax districts for the fourth year in a row. The total tax levy increase for all tax districts is 1.89%, and the six major tax districts levy increase is 1.85%

Proposed by town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) earlier this week, the $316.8 million budget would restore a total of 36 jobs (4.4%) that were cut last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The town’s 2021 adopted operating budget planned for a continuing pandemic environment and I am happy to report that we have performed as expected financially, with revenues on target in most departments and expenditures expected to meet budget despite the sharp rise in prices for many commodities,” Romaine wrote. “I expect no erosion of fund balance in all major tax districts at the end of 2021, other than the use of surplus in one fund to address hazardous trees throughout the town.” 

Romaine noted that while certain facilities and programs are still not fully open due to the pandemic, he expects everything to be as it was before coronavirus early next year.

“My 2022 tentative budget assumes a return to normal operations beginning in January 2022 with all government services available both in person and virtually,” he said. 

The tentative budget also highlights a growth in the landfill post-closure reserve by $1.2 million to an anticipated $21.2 million, and stabilization of snow removal costs. 

The board will hold a budget public hearing on Nov. 4 at 5 p.m. at Town Hall. 

File photo by Kyle Barr

Comsewogue Public Library’s 2021-2022 operating budget passed April 6, and Chris McCrary was re-elected as trustee. 

Director Debbie Engelhardt expressed a message of thanks to the community for their support both on the library’s website and in an upcoming Letter from the Director to be featured in the library’s next newsletter.

According to Engelhardt’s update, “The Library is now fine-free, with wonderful spring happenings underway and a delightful summer in store.”

While masks and physical distancing are still enforced for everyone’s safety at the library, there are no longer time limits for in-person visits and places to sit and read, study, work or chat have been restored.  

“We’re thrilled to welcome everyone back to the Library to relax, learn and grow in a comfortable and safe community setting,” she added.

In addition to the many online services and programs offered for adults, teens and children throughout the pandemic, including “Take and Make” programs, Comsewogue Pubic Library is beginning to offer outdoor programs and some indoor programs as part of its new hybrid service program.

“I’m so pleased with the staff’s latest community-centered initiatives — The Little Free Pantry and The Seed Library are examples — each of which can help ensure folks get enough to eat,” Engelhardt said. 

The library is also offering low and no-cost resources to help people find what they need to solve problems and achieve their personal and professional goals, including LinkedIn Learning where visitors can find video courses in business, technology and creative skills.

For children and teens, a new installation of CPL StoryWalk has been announced, which allows patrons to stroll the library lawn, while following along with posted pages of children’s books. Stories will be changed regularly.

CPL also now offers free notary services by appointment. 

For more information about the library’s approved operating budget, visit cplib.org/about/documents, and to learn more about Comsewogue Public Library’s programs and services for community members of all ages, visit cplib.org, or call 631-928-1212.

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File photo by Heidi Sutton

During Monday’s virtual board of trustees meeting, the Village of Port Jefferson agreed upon the 2021/2022 budget, with a total increase of 1.9% to $10,187,442.

Treasurer Denise Mordente explained on April 5 the increase over last year’s budget of $9,992,565 is attributed to several factors, including the loss of LIPA revenue and increases in state mandated expense lines.

A simple roll over budget would have resulted in a budget gap of approximately $400,000.

But according to Mayor Margot Garant, “The village was able to manage the gap reducing it to $194,877,” just slightly over the impact of the loss of LIPA revenue of $116,646 by reassigning resources and not rehiring staff in positions vacated due to retirement or attrition within certain departments. 

“We’re looking to make up the difference by increasing taxes by $122,000 with the balance covered  by increased revenues sources,” added Garant. 

“The impact to the average household, which would have an approximately $1,500 village tax bill is approximately a $45 increase,” she said. 

“We feel the budget, as proposed is going to provide the necessary resources, the village needs to continue to do its job, which is to provide our basic services to its residents.”

During the pandemic this fiscal year, Garant said, “We’re actually at $8.7 million in revenue, so we’re about $1.2 million short.” 

However, despite the loss of revenue, the village also managed to maintain services and staffing by implementing a spending freeze and strict oversight of village resources. 

The budget hearing has been posted the Village of Port Jefferson’s YouTube account. 

To read this year’s budget, visit the village website.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. Photo by Julianne Mosher

After weeks of warnings and missives about an upcoming budget shortfall, Suffolk officials finally published this upcoming year’s budget, one that has to take into consideration an apparent $437 million deficit over the next two years. Cuts won’t be instituted until the middle of 2021.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) revealed a 2021 recommended operating budget of $3.197 billion, representing $33 million less than the current year’s budget. It is a reaction to a total revenue shortfall of $325 million in 2020.

In a proposed budget released Oct. 9, the county would be letting go 500 full-time employees. The county exec said it would also mean a reduction in health care and mental health services, the loss of two full classes of trainees at the police academy and the elimination of 19 bus routes. 

Most cuts will be implemented July 1, 2021. County officials said this gives time in case some federal aid is received in the future.

“We have submitted a COVID-19 budget with cuts that would have been unimaginable just a short time ago,” Bellone said on a call with reporters Oct. 13. “These cuts should not happen, these are cuts that are devastating in many ways and would in effect undermine our recovery.”

The budget accounts for a sales tax loss from 2019 to 2020 of an estimated $131.7 million. The anticipated sales tax for 2021 is still $102.5 million less than 2019’s figures.

Among other losses across the board, the one increase seems to be property taxes from a real estate boom on Long Island. Suffolk County received $4 million more than last year, and anticipates $18.6 million more in 2021 than this current year.

In expenditures, contractual expenses and employee benefits are also set to marginally increase.

The county expects a negative fund balance for 2021 of about $176.98 million. Overall, Bellone said Suffolk could be looking at a cumulative $460 million deficit within the next year.

This year’s budget was originally set to roll in back in September, but it has since been delayed until the start of this month. The projected budget also may be another general cry for help to the federal government. Suffolk officials also decry the withholding of state aid to the tune of $1.9 billion to local municipalities.

Cutting employees would save about $25 million next year. The bus route cuts, along with reductions to the Suffolk County Accessible Transportation bus service affecting a total of 2,500 riders of both systems, will save $18 million. The police class cuts will save approximately $20 million, while a 50% cut across the board for contract agencies, which include substance abuse clinics, mental health providers, domestic violence shelters and gang prevention programs, would save another $8 million in 2021 and annualized savings of $16 million.

The budget also shows an overall 1.9% increase in taxes for the police district, though that remains under the New York State tax cap.

Bellone has constantly reiterated Suffolk’s need for federal funds over the past few months, holding press conference after press conference to reiterate loss of services because of COVID-19-induced budget shortfalls. Republicans in the Legislature, however, have consistently attacked the executive for what they have called fiscal mismanagement over the past few years, citing Suffolk’s bond downgrades and a report from Tom DiNapoli (D), the New York State comptroller, saying Suffolk was the most fiscally stressed county in the state in 2019.

Bellone, on the other hand, claimed he inherited in 2012 a $500 million deficit but that the County finished 2019 with a surplus. He added the county would have been on track for $50 million surplus in 2020 that would have wiped out the accumulated deficit prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suffolk did receive $257 million in CARES Act funding in April, as well as an additional $26.6 million for public transportation. Officials have said most or all that funding has been spent or earmarked, and it does not help cover overall losses.

Ed Romaine. Photo by Kyle Barr

Lacking any kind of financial aid from county, state or federal sources, Brookhaven town is having to do a lot of the heavy lifting themselves in its 2021 budget, despite the pandemic.

In a Zoom call with reporters, Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine said their 2021 budget will be losing out on thousands from New York State they annually receive due to the pandemic.

Under the new budget, the average resident could be paying just under $8.93 more than they did in 2020 in town taxes, though that may not include the taxes from those living in special districts, and it is likely less for those living in an incorporated village. That includes an increase of around $14 in regular town expenses but is offset by $4.75 for highway-related property taxes. Town taxes represent approximately 5.67% of a resident’s own total tax bill. The highest percentage, at over 70%, remains local school districts.

The state’s stay at home order resulted in residents producing 13% more garbage than last year, town officials said. The new budget has an annual fee for a single-family home of $365 a year.

The Town of Brookhaven’s $307 million spending plan is contending with a loss of funds from landfill revenues, building department revenues, fire marshal revenues, just to name a few. The town also has to deal with a reduction in state aid, an example being a 20% cut to the $1 million Citizens Empowerment Tax Credit, equivalent to $200,000.

The only positive this year, it seems, is that mortgage taxes have increased more than normal thanks to an influx of new residents from New York City.

Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said during a budget briefing Thursday, Oct. 1, that despite everything, they are staying within the New York State tax cap of 1.56%. He also boasted that the 2021 planned budget is not using any fund balance, or the town’s rainy day funds, to balance the budget. The town will likely have to dip into the fund balance this year, according to town Director of Operation Matt Miner, due to expenses not just from COVID-19 and subsequent shutdowns, but from Tropical Storm Isaias.

Through an incentive program and other staffing cuts, the town is less 42 full-time employees compared to 2020, as well as several part timers, many of whom were in summer programs which never came online due to the pandemic. The exit incentive program offered full-time staff the opportunity to retire early with $700 in their pocket for every year they worked for the town. Though because of benefits increases, the town is only saving $700,000 from staffing cuts.

“The one thing that I can’t do that the federal government can is I can’t spend money I don’t have,” Romaine said. “When you can’t do that, we could see our revenues were going down precipitously … their retirement at this time in a very difficult year for us was very helpful.”

The town is making the assumption that COVID-19 will be here to stay for the next several months and has set the tentative date for services and recreation spots, such as the Centereach pool complex.

“It does allow for some return to normalcy with some of our summer programs,” Miner said.

In terms of the highway department, Isaias did a number to their finances to the tune of approximately $5 million, including around $3 million in overtime payments, as well as contractor payments and equipment rentals. The town had offered all town residents the opportunity to get rid of their plant storm debris, but more residents also used it as an opportunity to get rid of plant debris that had not come down from the storm.

The town will have to eat those costs, Romaine said, as they have received no Federal Emergency Management Agency funding, and they do not expect any to be coming their way.

The reduction in highway property taxes are due to a decline in the 2021 snow removal budget, having not spent all the money budgeted for the past several years and carrying over a $5.4 million snow reserve. Road resurfacing, Miner said, is remaining fully funded in the capital budget at around $15 million. The town does anticipate a 20% loss in state CHIPS funding, which helps with local road repair, so the overall road repair budget is likely much less than last year.

“If anyone did that to the state budget, I’d figure they’d have problems, but I guess they figure they can do it to towns and villages … it’s too bad,” Romaine said.

This year, elected officials’ salaries are staying the same.

Suffolk County officials, meanwhile, have been frantically urging the federal government to provide additional aid to local municipalities. Though Suffolk received $283 million in CARES Act funding, Romaine said the county did not relinquish any to help town governments despite their pleas. Brookhaven itself did not receive any aid because it did not meet the minimum resident population to qualify.

Whether or not Republicans and Democrats on the federal level will come together to pass a new aid package, which the supervisor did not hold out much hope for, how it may impact the budget comes down to how much they get. Top of the list for Romaine, however, could be paying down debt.

“I’m not going to be supervisor forever, and I want to keep reducing the amount of debt the town has,” he said.

SBU Uses Up Half of Rainy Day Fund to Balance Budget

Stony Brook University is facing a huge financial hole in 2020. File photo from Stony Brook University

The COVID-19 crisis has exacted a heavy toll on Stony Brook University’s finances, creating a $109.6 million deficit on the academic and research side.

Maurie McInnis was named SBU’s sixth president. In a stunning letter made public on her president’s web page, she details the huge financial hole the school will have to navigate in the near future. Photo from SBU

The pandemic cost the hospital and clinic an estimated $58 million, while it also cost the academic and research campus over $74.6 million in the past financial year, which includes $35 million in refunded fees, $12 million in lost revenue from cultural programs and facilities rentals, and $8.5 million in extra expenses, including cleaning and supplies, student quarantine costs and technology costs, according to message from new Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis published on her SBU president web page Aug. 12.

Through a number of steps, including hiring freezes, the university has attempted to offset these costs, but that won’t be enough. The school is tapping into its central reserve fund, essentially the university’s rainy day pool, reducing it by over 50% in one year. McInnis, in an open letter on her web page, said this “is completely unsustainable.”

Starting today, McInnis will hold a series of virtual campus conversations to provide more details and address questions, while she and university leaders search for long-term solutions to address a host of challenges that have presented a serious headwind to the school’s future budget.

In disclosing detailed information, McInnis wrote that she believes such disclosures will help the campus work together towards solutions.

“I believe that it is only by being open and candid and providing clear information that we can come together as a community to tackle our shared challenges,” she wrote in her letter.

In her letter to the campus, McInnis detailed specific costs, while she also outlined the steps Stony Brook has taken to offset some of these financial challenges.

For starters, she wrote that the university has been “told to expect a 20-30% cut in state funding this year, or $25 million.” The school also had its allocation for last year retroactively cut by $19 million.

“It is unclear when, if ever, our funding will return to current levels, let alone the levels of support we ideally receive as a top research institution in the region,” she wrote in her letter.

Federal government restrictions on travel and visas, along with COVID impacts, have created a 17.5 percent drop in out-of-state and international students, which not only reduces diversity but also creates a $20 million drop in revenue.

The number of campus residents will also decline by 40% for next semester, from 10,000 to 6,000, creating an estimated $38.9 million revenue loss.

The bottom line, she explained, is that the $109.6 million deficit on the academic and research side. This she predicts, could become significantly worse.

The measures the university has taken offset some of that decline, saving the school an estimated $55 million, but the measures still do not close the budget gap and are not sustainable.

A hiring freeze for new positions and for those that become open from staff and faculty attrition will save $20 million.

Student housing refinancing will save $31.1 million in fiscal year 2021.

An ongoing freeze on expenses covering costs for service contracts, supplies and equipment and travel will save about $2.3 million

A cut to the athletic budget will save $2 million.

Senior campus leadership, meanwhile, has voluntarily taken a 10% pay cut along with a permanent hold back of any 2% raise for all Management Confidential employees.

At the same time, the university faces longer-term financial challenges.

State support has declined since 2008, from $190.4 million to $147.7 million last year. That will be even lower this year. On a per-student basis, state support in 2020 was $6,995, compared with $9,570.

This year’s expected increase in tuition and the Academic Excellence fee have not been approved by the SUNY Board.

The multi-year contracts that govern faculty and staff pay have not been fully funded, McInnis wrote in her president’s message. That has created an additional cost of $10 million for the 2020 fiscal year. Over the next five years, that compounds to $54 million.

The rainy day fund is picking up $9.7 million of that scheduled contractual salary increase raise.

The Tuition Assistance Program has been set at 2010 tuition levels, which creates a $9 million financial gap in fiscal year 2020. That is expected to rise in 2021. Stony Brook also recently learned, according to McInnis’s letter, that TAP will be funded at 80 percent of what the school awards to New York State students who rely on the program to access higher education.

At the same time, the Excelsior Program, which began in the fall of 2017 and allows students from families making up to $125,000 to attend school tuition free, may not accept new students this year.

McInnis concluded with her hope that the university will come together in the same way it did during the worst of the pandemic in New York to address these financial challenges.

“I fully recognize that you are operating in one of the most difficult environments any of us has experienced,” she wrote. “And, we are going to have to bring the same level of collaboration and innovation that you brought at the height of the COVID-19 response to our systemic budget challenges.”

McInnis urged the staff to “work together, share the best ideas, challenge assumptions, and build on the excellence of Stony Brook University in order to continue to move this great institution forward.”

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Village Hires Deputy Village Attorney/Prosecutor

Port Jefferson Village Hall. File photo by Heidi Sutton

Despite the ongoing pandemic, Port Jefferson village is still moving ahead with its budget agenda, this year seeing a revenue decrease thanks in part to the LIPA settlement reducing the assessed value of the Port Jefferson Power Station.

The Port Jefferson village board held a budget hearing over the Internet, even including a live rendition of the national anthem by Port Jefferson student Nicholas Rodriguez, who played Oliver during the annual Charles Dickens Festival.

However, the new format did not allow for any public comment. This was in accordance with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) executive order suspending portions of the public meeting law due to the coronavirus crisis.

The proposed 2020-21 budget includes $9,992,565 in total appropriations, a 3.19 percent decrease from last year’s amount of $10,310,869. This takes into account a 3.5 percent Increase in the tax rate, a $111,088 decrease in assessed value of the Port Jefferson Power Station, as well as a $145,000 decrease in ambulance charges since that is now handled by the Town of Brookhaven.

“Cutting our budget by over $300,000 was not an easy task,” said Mayor Margot Garant. “In cutting that budget we were effective in consolidating some departments.”

One of the changes she referenced was moving one clerk typist into the position of a retiring typist, at a lower salary, without replacing the original with a new employee. 

As regards other village employees, the village assessor, who was on an hourly rate, has become salaried at $30,000, resulting in an increase of $26,019 from what he was getting paid this last year.

The board is also hiring a full-time internal deputy village attorney as a prosecutor, for a total expense to the village of $102,000. Garant said the board agreed this was needed to help prosecute offenses more effectively, also bringing in more revenue for the courts.

“We were just not getting any real effect as a board,” the mayor said. “We collectively agreed bringing on a staff full time will have more direction over individuals.

Village attorney Brian Egan said this will aid in prosecutions of village code infractions. He added that New York State’s new discovery laws, which require municipalities to present all evidence to the defense within a short time after being charged with a crime, have been difficult on small entities like Port Jeff. The new prosecutor will be in charge of handling that side of things.

“This is to really put an emphasis on our code enforcement to go out and aggressively prosecute code enforcement violations,” Egan said. “Having a full-time deputy village attorney … will benefit [the village] all the time.”

This year, the village is looking to raise $6,451,427 from taxes, a near $50,000 increase from last year.

“Because our LIPA assessment is frozen at a settlement … the assessed value shifts from the power plant to the shoulders of our residents,” Garant said.

In terms of capital projects, there are several on the horizon for the upcoming fiscal year, including building the $795,069 parking lot on Barnum Avenue. There are also plans to renovate the Highlands Boulevard retaining wall in the next two to three months using funds from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York gained through state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson). Additionally, the village has gained Suffolk County grants to renovate the bathrooms by Rocketship Park and in the lower floor of Village Hall, to fix lingering issues, make them Americans with Disabilities Act compliant and heat the outside bathrooms so they can be used in the winter. Additionally, an $80,000 drainage project on Longfellow Drive is expected to start this year.

The village has also recently received permits from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for securing the bluff on East Beach, which has been rapidly eroding over the past several years. The mayor had expected they would need to take out a small bond for that project. Another bonded project will most likely be the digitization of village records at both the building and planning department and the clerk’s department. Such a project may cost upward of $200,000. 

The village currently has a AA bond rating.

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Mount Sinai High School. File photo by Barbara Donlon

Mount Sinai parents will begin to see portions of the school district’s 2020-21 proposed budget figures in the next few months. At a Jan. 15 board of education meeting, district officials unveiled 12 percent of the budget, which included central administration, insurance, central printing, BOCES, transportation, technology and debt services among others. 

The tentative total budget figure for 2020-21 looks to be $61,009,700, a slight increase from last year’s number. 

Board of education/central administration costs would be increasing by $19,000 in the upcoming school year. 

Superintendent Gordon Brosdal said the chunk of that increase would go into costs for an additional budget vote and cover the translation of all documents/public notices into Spanish. That would cost the district $14,000. 

“It is a state mandate that hit us and other districts this year,” he said. “Any election/public notices has to be translated into Spanish. The state says we have to do this, but they are not giving us any money to do this.”

Another mandate that will be implemented is the addition of a data protection officer in response to a number of school districts experiencing hacks last year. 

Purchasing cost will increase by $2,050 in 2020-21 due to the district utilizing a co-op organization that assists in securing materials and supplies. 

“We have been using Educational Data Services — they do a lot — they work with vendors and we don’t have to do the bidding,” Brosdal said. “In the long run it will save us money.”

Technology will see an increase of over $65,000, in part due to the district getting rid of antiquated equipment as well as adding sets of laptops, replacement items like projector lamps, printer repairs, iPads and smart board parts. 

Tax Anticipation Notes for 2020-21 are estimated at 3 percent. Debt services would decrease by over $6,000. Central printing, insurance, BOCES administration will increase collectively by $22,000. 

The next budget meeting will be Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. Topics discussed will be pupil personnel services, building principals, instructional and adult ed/driver’s ed.