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Mar 14, 2012 1:00 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Village Unveils $9.5 Million Draft Budget

Mar 14, 2012 1:23 PM

Westhampton Beach Village officials said Tuesday that they are trying their best to develop a spending plan that stays under the new state tax levy cap without compromising services or laying off employees.

The village this week unveiled its tentative $9.5 million spending plan which, if approved, will increase overall spending by $171,394, or 1.8 percent, over this year’s $9.3 million budget.

If the budget is adopted without any changes, the village’s tax rate would increase by about 4.7 percent, from $2.68 to $2.81 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. That means that a taxpayer whose home is assessed at $1 million can expect to pay about $2,810 in village property taxes next year, or $130 more than this year.

“It is important to the Board of Trustees that we stay under the tax cap and still provide a level of services our residents and taxpayers have come to expect from us,” Westhampton Beach Village Clerk Rebecca Molinaro said. “It won’t be easy, but I think we are all up to the challenge and have every intention on staying within the cap.

“I believe this proposed budget is a decent document,” she continued. “It attempts to address the many unfunded mandates and the 2 percent property levy cap [that] the village must comply with while meeting its own financial obligations and maintaining the village’s services and infrastructure.”

As with public school districts, local municipalities must absorb costs that are out of their control, such as spikes in pension payments and unfunded state mandates. For the village, one of the biggest bumps in expenditures is its state retirement pension costs, which are increasing 15 percent, from $718,904 this year to $825,000 next year, according to the draft budget. As a result, the village will spend an estimated $2.48 million on employee benefits next year, more than 4.8 percent more than the current year.

Village Trustee Hank Tucker, who also noted that a large percentage of the increases are contractual and mandate-driven, noted that governments on every level are making cuts.

“State pensions is a big one,” Mr. Tucker said, adding that the pension figure is only an estimate as the final numbers won’t be released until after the board must adopt its budget. “I think we haven’t compromised services and that is very important.”

Retirements have contributed to an overall 3.8 percent decrease in the public safety portion of the budget, which includes the village’s police department. The tentative spending plan sets aside almost $2.7 million, or about $100,000 less than the current year, for public safety.

The village is required by the federal government to upgrade its police radio systems by January 1, 2013, for more than double the cost of a normal annual appropriation, according to Ms. Molinaro. The Federal Communications Commission will require police radios to use a narrow band, which will free up air space.

The village must adopt its spending plan by May 1. A public hearing on the proposed budget is set for Thursday, April 5, at 7 p.m. The board will discuss a local law needed to override the tax cap, if necessary, at the same meeting.

Westhampton Beach Village Mayor Conrad Teller said Wednesday that the tentative budget remains a work in progress. “We are continuing to prune it,” he added.

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"Village officials trying not to compromise services or lay off employees" - Are you kidding me? Why not- lets look to decrease taxes not "live within the tax cap". Why every year is there an increase? Come on folks- someone else please speak up!
By realistic (468), westhampton on Mar 15, 12 8:54 AM
Because these employees aren't public servants they are friends of politicians serving themselves. People ignore this issue but taxes will evntually run us all out of here.
By chief1 (2784), southampton on Mar 15, 12 9:04 AM
Caps are hard to deal with. Looking at it very simply an employee may get a COLA increase of 3-4%. Some employees are governed by a contract and the contract determines the % increase. Couple that with a rise in fuel prices (gas,#2, #6) and you realize one of three things:

1. It is impossible to hold to a 2% increase when other things are increasing by a greater %
2. Increases are necessary
3. If increases are not necessary and you are increasing by a rate greater then 2% then ...more
By Hambone (513), New York on Mar 15, 12 10:53 PM
Hambone. Increases are not necessary. With your thinking we will all soon run out of money unless you have a printer in your basement.
By realistic (468), westhampton on Mar 18, 12 8:52 AM
Given the scenario the three points are three possible scenarios. If you hold a cap increase at 2% and your expenses grow at a greater rate, all things being equal you eventually run a deficit. IF your expenses increase and you want to have a balanced budget or zero sum budget, your revenue must increase by roughly the same %. Lastly if you think you can have expenses increase without increasing revenue than other expenses must decrease...there is your 'pork' for lack of a better term.

BTW ...more
By Hambone (513), New York on Mar 19, 12 12:45 PM
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