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Nov 20, 2017 1:12 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Scalera Votes Against Schneiderman's $99 Million Southampton Town Budget; Spending Plan Approved Anyway

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman during Monday's budget meeting. AMANDA BERNOCCO
Nov 21, 2017 1:58 PM

Southampton Town’s $99.4 million budget for 2018 was approved on Monday afternoon—though it did not have support from all five Town Board members.

Councilwoman Christine Scalera, who will be the board’s lone Republican come January 1, 2018, voted against the budget, noting that the tax levy and operational costs marked too high of an increase.

Approved in a 4-1 vote, the budget accounts for a $64 million tax levy—a nearly 4.5 percent increase from the current year’s $61.3 million levy. Though the levy stays within the state-mandated tax cap, Ms. Scalera said the town is still asking too much from taxpayers.

“It’s just an incredible increase,” Ms. Scalera said.

She also pointed to the total $99.4 million spending plan, which is up $4.7 million from the current year’s budget. In 2017, the total budget climbed nearly 4 percent from the prior year, from $91.1 million to $94.7 million.

“There was a 9 percent increase in the last two years,” said Ms. Scalera, noting that she could not support such large spending increases in the operational budget.

Still, Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said he thinks the adopted budget is appropriate, stressing that there was even a “slight decrease” in the tax rate.

The budget carries a tax rate of $1.389 per $1,000 of assessed valuation—a 0.6 percent decrease from the current rate of $1.398 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The main reason for that, however, is due to a nearly $3 billion jump—or about 5 percent—in the overall assessed value of property in the town, to $63.69 billion. That means that while the tax rate is set to decrease slightly, the bump in assessed valuations means some residents will see an increase in their taxes.

“I think it’s a great budget,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

Much of the increased spending is due to contractual salary raises and rising insurance costs. The salary increases are widely seen across the board for administrators in Town Hall—including a raise of nearly $9,000, or 8 percent, for Mr. Schneiderman himself, bumping him from $108,243 to $117,147 annually, not including benefits. The supervisor noted that he doesn’t take health insurance benefits from the town, though his overall benefits package still totals $27,656 in the approved budget, which is actually down slightly from the current year.

The budget also calls for two new positions: a full-time code enforcement officer, who will earn $45,275.15 annually plus benefits, and a full-time environmental analyst position in the Community Preservation Fund office, who will pull an annual salary of $57,780, plus benefits.

Additionally, a $1 million “pay as you go” fund was budgeted by Mr. Schneiderman so that some future purchases—such as town vehicles—can be bought without having to pay interest on a bond. While the fund’s creation requires an up-front investment, it should result in less debt for the town in the long run, according to Town Comptroller Leonard Marchese.

The budget also includes funding for multiple capital projects, including upgrades to the Ponquogue Beach pavilion in Hampton Bays, road improvements, the installation of a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at Town Hall, as well as upgrades to the town’s Jackson Avenue facilities in Hampton Bays, among other initiatives.

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Weird how town boards work, when the vote is 4-1. Things get approved "anyway." Seems strange to focus solely on one members criticism of the plan when 4 approved it...
By Brandon Quinn (154), Hampton Bays on Nov 20, 17 2:33 PM
Not if you've followed this Town Board for the last several years and know that Scalera is the only one paying attention and worth listening to. If she is criticizing it my money says with good reason. But go ahead ask ms. Lofstad or Mr. Bouvier why they supported it. If you get anything close to a specific or articulate response I'd be shocked. They seem best at just saying "I'm with him".
By Roughrider28 (71), southampton on Nov 20, 17 7:10 PM
3 members liked this comment
The real shocker is that the vote was 4-1. I guess Stan Glinka is becoming a democrat and leaving Scalera out to dry.
By Gillnetter (102), Hampton Bays on Nov 22, 17 8:37 AM
Jay is a crook and cares about himself only
By bigblue84 (58), Hampton Bays on Nov 20, 17 5:22 PM
1 member liked this comment
Crooked Jay gets a 27k raise...
By icecreamman (395), Southampton on Nov 21, 17 12:12 AM
Don’t look at me, I didn’t vote for this lunatic. But those that did should enjoy this first move. Increased spending, increased taxes, increased waste and salary increases. For them, not you.
By even flow (782), East Hampton on Nov 21, 17 5:54 AM
2 members liked this comment
"I think it's a great budget," says Schneiderman.
Why wouldn't he?
Giving himself a substantial raise of almost $9000. !!!

By HamptonClassic (69), Southampton on Nov 21, 17 11:46 AM
Thank you Councilperson Scalera for being the voice of rationale thought on the Town Board. I will wish you the best over the next 2 years. Maybe one of them will go the way of Bender...we can only hope.
By HB Proud (879), Hampton Bays on Nov 21, 17 12:39 PM
You've hit a new low with that one, HB. You're actually wishing addiction, disgrace and imprisonment on a fellow human being. Think about it.
By Turkey Bridge (1870), Quiogue on Nov 24, 17 10:38 AM
I agree (pick yourself up off the floor) ....meant off in the sunset...some reason for resignation...and a special election.
By HB Proud (879), Hampton Bays on Nov 24, 17 11:27 AM
But...TB...now that you raised the issue, do they do random drug testing for all of Town employees including Board members?
By HB Proud (879), Hampton Bays on Nov 24, 17 11:42 AM
Interesting. Don't know, but I doubt it. In most spheres, drug testing isn't done until there's been a spate of incidents, but that's locking the barn after the horse is stolen. Could be a good idea.

Of course, elected officials might balk. Just putting myself, a non-user, in that place, I'd say, "You had faith enough in me to vote for me. If now you don't have faith enough to let me serve without a drug test, go to hell, I'm outta here." And a drug user would naturally say the ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1870), Quiogue on Nov 25, 17 9:58 AM
Random drug testing is common place in businesses and many DOT, Police, Fire, etc. positions in other areas. I seriously now wonder if it is in Southampton Town. That will be a good question for the Opioid Task Force.
By HB Proud (879), Hampton Bays on Nov 25, 17 10:20 AM
During the campaign, I pointed out the significant increase in both the Supervisor and Deputy Supervisor's salaries in this budget. In response to the writer's inquiry, the current Supervisor said he would reduce his salary if the Town Board thought the increase was too much. Wonder if he actually ever made that offer to the Board?

By roverton (45), Westhampton on Nov 23, 17 1:40 PM
The Town of Southampton Press release headline states the budget "reduces taxes for the second straight year:" As a CPA I would like to know what accounting method is employed at the Town that an $8 million INCREASE in taxes is "a reduction"? I realize that the taxes over the assessed values is lower, but that is meaningless to anyone paying their taxes. It is time for the Town Board members to stop campaigning with headlines of "lower taxes" and code enforcement "surges" and fake metrics and ...more
By G.A.Lombardi (207), Hampton Bays on Nov 24, 17 11:55 AM
4 members liked this comment
go away ray
By CaptainSig (678), Dutch Harbor on Nov 25, 17 7:03 AM
It doesn't matter who is Supervisor, they need to STOP campaigning and start running the government in a transparent and accountable manner.
By G.A.Lombardi (207), Hampton Bays on Nov 25, 17 10:15 AM
1 member liked this comment
The good news is that Jay will do this 2 year term and get out. He’s off to greener pastures. And, I believe, he gets a county pension for his “longevity”.
By Draggerman (823), Southampton on Nov 27, 17 6:00 AM
hope springs eternal
By HB Proud (879), Hampton Bays on Nov 27, 17 11:07 AM
Not unhappy to see Jay go but then what are we left with? Three neophytes and Ms. Scalera who will sadly be termed out of her Council seat. Hope she seeks higher office and preferably here.
By Roughrider28 (71), southampton on Nov 28, 17 8:29 AM
Scalera didn't challenge Jay this year when we needed her and she can't even keep her fellow republican Stan Glinka from backing democrat spending. I think we can forget about her seeking higher office let alone actually winning it in the future.
By Gillnetter (102), Hampton Bays on Nov 28, 17 8:52 AM
Scalera is the only one who could have given Schneiderman a run that's true but I would bet she is the better for the time she spent with her now late father.As for Glinka, lmao but you already know that. She is a winner and hope she will consider we need her more than ever!
By Roughrider28 (71), southampton on Nov 28, 17 9:12 AM
1 member liked this comment
halloween, party, sag harbor,