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.