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Sep 27, 2018 4:16 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Supervisor Proposes $102 Million Budget For 2019; Spending Up But Tax Rate Down

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman presented the 2019 budget to board members on Thursday. GREG WEHNER
Oct 3, 2018 1:05 PM

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman presented a proposed $102.7 million budget for 2019 last Thursday, and despite an increase in spending, he plans to continue a three-year pattern of reducing the property tax rate.

The current tax rate is $1.39 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, and Mr. Schneiderman is proposing to drop it to $1.38 per $1,000.

“I’m proud, once again, to deliver a budget,” the supervisor said last week during a presentation of his budget at Town Hall. “I worked really hard to try to put together a budget that does not raise property taxes.”

Even though the tax rate is decreasing, the town spending will increase. Spending is expected to go up from the current year’s $99.4 million to $102.7 million—a difference of $3.3 million, or 3.3 percent.

One of the charts in Mr. Schneiderman’s presentation showed that the overall assessed value of property in the town in 2019 is projected to be $67 billion, or nearly $3.3 billion—5 percent—higher than the current year.

As the property values go up, Mr. Schneiderman said, the owners are typically expected to pay more in taxes. At the same time, Mr. Schneiderman explained, he recognizes many residents in Southampton struggle with day-to-day expenses, which is why decreasing the property tax rate is essential.

Over the past three years, the tax rate has decreased, according to Mr. Schneiderman. “It’s still moving in the right direction,” he said. “To have the tax rate go down by 1 percent is relief for all of our property taxpayers.”

Mr. Schneiderman also said the proposed budget plans to reduce the overall town debt by $23 million.
Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone said on Wednesday that the majority of the debt being carried is from purchases that will ultimately be reimbursed by the Community Preservation Fund. CPF money comes from a 2-percent real estate transfer tax. As the fund builds, the town is able to pay off debt that was accrued nearly 15 to 20 years ago to buy properties for preservation and similar purposes.

When putting together the budget, Mr. Schneiderman said, he and Len Marchese, the town comptroller, weighed possible spending increases against the need to provide more services to the growing population.

Some of the services address the diverse needs of the community, while others are capital improvement projects.

The proposed capital budget supports many different improvement projects, including an overhaul to the Ponquogue Beach Pavilion, making Hot Dog Beach more accessible to the public, creating a comfort station at Good Ground Park, preserving the Tiana Life Saving Station and revamping the Lobster Inn property.

Town Board members Julie Lofstad and Christine Scalera both said on Wednesday that the budget has a lot of money going into infrastructure, which they said is needed.

“We do have a lot of facilities that need to be tended to,” Ms. Scalera said. “While putting money in, we will get a return on the investment.”

In particular, the beach facilities at Ponquogue and Hot Dog have fallen into disrepair over the years. If cleaned up, they both have the potential to bring in revenue to the town through the sale of parking passes and other services offered there.

“Infrastructure … that’s what draws the people here,” Ms. Lofstad said. “We want those tourism dollars. We also want the residents to be proud of what this town has to offer.”

The budget also supports improvements to current town facilities. Mr. Schneiderman said money is in the budget to replace an aging heating and ventilation system at Town Hall.

When predicting revenues versus expenditures, Mr. Schneiderman said, he and Mr. Marchese were conservative.

If the town were to over-project the revenues coming in, and then, partway through the year, a project ended up costing more than expected, the town would find itself short on funds.

“I’d rather err on the side of caution, and that’s what we do every year, including this budget,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

He announced that the budget allows for the addition of four town positions—including a full-time police officer with a salary of $45,859.67, an assistant town engineer for municipal works with a salary of $100,134.60, an administrative assistant in the park’s department with a salary of $57,512.56 and a full-time office assistant in the assessor’s office with a salary of $38,218.97—next year.

Mr. Zappone said the salaries for the positions have been accounted for in the budget, but benefits are difficult to determine at this point because the types of benefits the new employees will take advantage of are unknown.

Efforts to continue making the town “green,” such as switching to LEDs at town facilities and replacing vehicles with full electric cars, are also supported by the budget, as is the conversion to quiet landscaping equipment throughout the town, diversity training, two pumpout boats and public safety improvements.

“We want to make sure the town is properly funded so we can deliver the services that our residents expect,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

The Town Board plans to make any adjustments necessary to the tentative budget at its work session on Thursday, October 4, and then convert it to a preliminary budget. Public hearings will then be set for October 23 and November 13, and the vote to approve or reject the budget will take place on November 20.

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...but..but..the assessed value of your properties are up up up...Liar.
By V.Tomanoku (660), southampton on Sep 27, 18 4:26 PM
2 members liked this comment
But you can't sell it for that>>>>>>>>
By knitter (1483), Southampton on Sep 27, 18 5:22 PM
1 member liked this comment
Just did the math, my Town taxes go down $4.75 - talk about crumbs ...........
By HamptonDad (169), Hampton Bays on Sep 27, 18 5:32 PM
Town says my home is assessed at $1.5M - Realtor says Id be lucky to get $1.1 - I smell a SCAM here JAY!!!!!
By VMC (2), Hamtpon Bays on Sep 28, 18 10:36 AM
This guy is like all politicians.. garbage garbage garbage. He is a photo op guy who doesn’t care about anything except himself.
By bigblue84 (57), Hampton Bays on Sep 28, 18 1:31 PM
We need raised curb bike paths throughout all the towns for commuting, recreation and to reduce traffic and poisoning emissions. It’s a healthier lifestyle to bike for all ages but there’s NO SUPPORTING INFRASTRUCTURE
By Non-Political (73), Hampton Bays on Sep 28, 18 11:30 PM
Good ground park walkway from main st is very dark, no lights, also the walkway blocks are starting to separate due to the cement along the sides breaking away. This park isn't even years old, what a job.
By Resident tax (130), Hampton bays ny on Sep 30, 18 2:25 PM
Good ground park walkway from main st is very dark, no lights, also the walkway blocks are starting to separate due to the cement along the sides breaking away. This park isn't even years old, what a job.
By Resident tax (130), Hampton bays ny on Sep 30, 18 2:26 PM
Hey, since they have so much money, how about going back to picking up our leaves again.
By HamptonDad (169), Hampton Bays on Oct 1, 18 10:04 AM
1 member liked this comment