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Jun 22, 2018 12:03 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Trustees Plan To Get Its Own Tax Line Is Delayed

Jun 27, 2018 10:36 AM

A plan for the Southampton Town Board of Trustees to have its own line on the town property tax bill has been put on hold, as the legislative session in Albany came to a close last week before the groundwork for the plan could be laid by lawmakers.

Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni said on Monday that the bill was proposed late in the legislative session and didn’t receive the necessary approvals from Albany in time. Mr. Schiavoni, who supported the bill, said he hopes to see it come back during the next session.

“Maybe we’ll have better luck in the legislative session next year,” he said.

The bill—which was pushed by New York Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Senator Kenneth P. LaValle—passed in the Assembly, but did not get through the Senate in time, according to officials.

Scott Horowitz, secretary and treasurer of the Trustees, said he’s optimistic about the bill being approved in the next session. “I’m feeling very good about it still,” he said. “My discussion with Assemblyman Thiele is that it was very, very well-received in the Assembly.

“There are a lot of moving parts, and we are going to keep working on it until it gets through the State Senate,” he added.

Mr. Thiele, who drafted the necessary legislation in Albany with Mr. LaValle to enable the creation of a taxing district for the Trustees, explained that under the proposal the Trustees would have created a budget in the same fashion as a fire district. The Trustees would not be able to pierce the 2 percent state-mandated cap on tax levy increases, would not be able to issue bonds to borrow for capital projects or other spending, and would need to go through the Town Board to set the actual amount on the tax bill.

“If they needed to pierce that 2 percent cap then they have to get the Town Board back involved,” Mr. Thiele noted.

The Trustees board, which was formed in the 17th century by the Dongan Patent, is currently funded through an expenditure line in the Town Board budget. According to the adopted 2018 budget, the Trustees are currently operating on a $1.12 million spending plan.

For the Trustees to get their own line on the town’s property tax bill, the state legislation must be approved and signed by the governor, Southampton Town residents would have to approve the move via referendum, and the Town Board would have to adopt a local law allowing the Trustees to create their own budget.

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I’m not sure, based on recent events, that the Trustees have proven that they are responsible enough to manage a budget. And, as for “transparency”, they haven’t shown much of that.

Between the Frankel debacle and the property leased to The Station for $500, this board has proven they need constant supervision.

By Draggerman (875), Southampton on Jun 26, 18 7:20 AM