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Apr 1, 2015 11:21 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Moore Unveils Her First Spending Plan For Westhampton Beach Village

Apr 1, 2015 12:45 PM

Westhampton Beach Mayor Maria Moore has assembled the first proposed budget of her administration, a plan calling for a year-to-year increase in spending of $162,000, falling just within the state-mandated cap on tax levy increases from year to year.

The draft spending plan, shared for the first time on Tuesday afternoon, maps out $9.92 million in expenditures for the 2015-16 fiscal year, a 1.6-percent increase from the current year’s budget of $9.76 million. However, Village Clerk Elizabeth Lindtvit said the plan is subject to change and likely will be altered before the May 1 state deadline for village budget adoptions.

Ms. Lindtvit declined to release a copy of the budget because it has not been finalized.

Ms. Moore and the Village Board discussed the proposed budget with the village’s various department heads—Police Chief Trevor Gonce, Building and Zoning Administrator Paul Houlihan, Public Works Superintendent John Kearns and Ms. Lindtvit—at Village Hall. Although the board did not disclose exact budget figures from the department heads, each explained their requests and fielded questions from the Village Board.

With his department accounting for nearly a quarter of the village’s annual budget, Chief Gonce drew the most attention from the board on Tuesday. His budget request called for the hiring of a third new police officer, in addition to the two that the board had authorized him to begin interviewing last month, as well as funding for a new patrol car and two new car/body camera systems. He is also seeking funding for the department’s patrol boat, which has been unfunded and sitting dormant for years.

The chief also budgeted for a police operations aide, the position he and the board agreed to establish instead of hiring a police commissioner. This position’s salary was not specified during Tuesday’s meeting, but Chief Gonce said the individual’s duties would range from taking calls and working the department’s front desk to assisting with department accreditation and general organization. “I can come up with plenty of jobs for them to do,” he said.

The Building and Zoning Department and the clerk’s office budgeted increases only for annually salary raises. Mr. Kearns budgeted for the hiring of two new employees for public works, but both of those are replacing positions that were budgeted for last year and vacated—one employee died and another was fired.

Mr. Kearns also requested funds to purchase a new street sweeper. During his presentation, the board voted to add more money to the snow removal line of his budget, bumping it up from the $15,000 he requested to $20,000, taking the difference from a surplus fund.

Ms. Moore also suggested raising the stipends for the village’s three appointed boards: Planning, Architecture Review and the Zoning Board of Appeals. Although no such increase was requested, she said it would be an act of good faith, as those stipends haven’t been increased in several years. She proposed that the board member stipends be increased from $1,500 to $2,000, while each chairman’s stipend would be bumped from $3,600 to $4,000, accounting for a total budgetary increase of $7,200.

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