By: Progress for Westhampton Beach
The Mayor called the meeting to order at 7:00. The Board of Trustees received further presentation from Kyle Collins concerning proposals for improvements in re-configuring sidewalks, crosswalks, curbs, and most especially the intersection of Mill Road, Main Street and Library Avenue. A copy of the presentation is available for viewing in the Clerk’s office at Village Hall.
The Trustees considered a variety of applications for the use of village property. Among them was an application for use the Great Lawn by the WHBPAC for the Zoppe Family Circus, scheduled for July 23-26, with the big top being erected earlier in the week.
Getting to the bread and butter of the evening, your tax dollars, the public hearing on the tentative budget for the fiscal year beginning June 1, 2015 and ending May 31, 2016 was opened.
The hearing was to review the 2015-2016-Tentative-Budget, as amended by the Board of Trustees at the last meeting. The Mayor’s Budget Message is posted here and on the village web site. After the hearing, with no objections having been voiced by anyone, the Board unanimously adopted the tentative budget as it final budget.
With both bread and circuses having been addressed, the meeting was adjourned at 8:40.
Spending in the budget increases by only 1%
This budget provides funding for infrastructure maintenance with a budgeted transfer to the capital fund of $163,000 which is an increase of $158,000 above the previous year, all this with only a 1% total increase in spending.
A Reserve Fund for a Gas Fueling Station is funded with $150,000
A Reserve Fund for Roads and Main Street is funded with $400,000. With 26 miles of roads in the village, a regular schedule of repaving will prevent more costly structural repairs to village roads. The village does receive CHIPS money from the state annually, but road paving is costly and the price of asphalt is not going down. This past fall Mill Road from Oneck Lane east to the Circle was paved under a Suffolk County bid contract.
Highway Department Equipment Reserve Fund was increased from $90,023.68 to $190,170.29
Park Trust Fund increased by $173,000 to $916,875, these funds are restricted by law for park purposes which can include property acquisition and capital improvements at village parks.
Building Repair Reserve increased by $30,188 to $173,037.
A previously negotiated collective bargaining agreement with the police department provides for a 2% increase in salaries for all members of the department. This contract remains in effect.
The DPW has been working without a new contract since last May. Under the Taylor Law the old contract remains in effect. Salaries have not increased but are subject to ongoing negotiation .
The Office staff for both the Building Department and the Clerk / Treasurer’s Department routinely had salary increases set each year at budget time. This year raises were deferred by the Board of Trustees until multi-year contracts are negotiated.
The budget includes the funds for two police officers to be hired and continue in the village employ contingent on the outcome of the pending case with respect to one suspended officer. The budget also provides for the hiring of a third officer. When it is time to make these appointments the authority to appoint police officers, as with the police chief, is uniquely vested in the Board of Trustees, all other appointments by law are made by the Mayor with subsequent confirmation by the Board of Trustees.
The budget provides for hiring two additional DPW workers. In March there had been two workers out on workmen’s compensation. This left both workers as a budgetary expense while reducing the workforce. Since then one worker has returned to work but the other remains out. If and when to hire replacement(s) will have to be evaluated going forward on an as needed basis, but the two additional positions are budgeted.
The Real Property Tax Levy Increases by 1.67%
The assessed value of property in the village decreased by $8,199,739.
Under New York State Law the valuation date for property is July 1 of the previous year. That means that in setting the tax rate for this year our Clerk and the Town assessor look at the value of each parcel in the village, as on July 1, 2014.
The tentative assessment roll is available to the public on May 1 of the following year (May 2015). The grieving begins and finally ends with supplicants lining up at St. Rosalie’s on the third Tuesday in May. A final assessment roll is set on July 1, 2015. (Even then, Small Claims Tax Assessment Review, also called tax certiorari proceedings, are brought annually by those aggrieved by the assessed value of their property, and some cases do result in tax refunds. This contingent liability is budgeted in the village’s litigation budget line: A1420.401)
Healthy growth in the tax base helps to alleviate some of the tax burden for our residents, both for village taxes and the heavier school tax burden. In particular, growth in our commercial districts, B1, B2 and B3, adds revenue with only modest additional demands on municipal services.
Village revenues were conservatively estimated to be lower than last year. This together with the reduction in the assessed value of property made small contributions to the tax rate which is still below the state tax cap.
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The budget presents a good plan for the village. Now its up to the Mayor and the Board of Trustees to implement it.