Re: The Southampton Village Board public hearing of May 14, on the local law to repeal Local Law 1 of 2020, authorizing a tax levy in excess of the limit established in General Municipal Law Sec 3-c:
Southampton Village residents must applaud their administration in the management of the current health crisis. Daily communication and updates, coordination with county and state executives, distribution of masks, fundraising for hospital ventilators and personal protective equipment, and a local testing center are examples among many of strong actions taken on behalf of the local community.
A budget crisis will follow this health crisis. A budget crisis is looming and needs as much attention from this administration.
There are several economic realities that make the 2020 budgeted revenue most uncertain. Receipts of property taxes due June 30 may be delayed, and other source of revenue will be sharply lower. The village cannot rely on past experience, when it under-budgeted revenue and over-budgeted expenses. The village should not rely on reserves, which will be needed for important environmental and urban development initiatives for its future.
The village should not be drawn into political debates about how to account for certain line items in its budget. The village should not increase its property taxes beyond its current 4.5 percent plan.
It is the fiduciary responsibility of this local administration to manage the upcoming budget crisis and be clear with employees and residents about its plans. Ideas like a daily drive-in movie theater at Coopers Beach will not be enough to counter falling revenue. Cutting capital projects and a hiring freeze will not cut enough expenses.
Difficult and unpopular budget and human capital decisions are ahead of you. The future of the community relies on your united actions today.
Christian R. Picot
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