Budget Process For Region’s Villages Moves Ahead Despite Closures And Quarantines

The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees at its first work session under Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy (center) on July 24, when she announced the first members of her new Environmental Advisory Committee. Peter Boody photo

Despite wholesale closures and quarantines, and a panoply of postponements, the local village budget process is still underway.

By law, villages are required to submit tentative budgets by March 31, hold public hearings by April 15, and adopt spending plans by May 1.

In Sag Harbor Village, Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy and the Village Board held a second work session on its draft budget on March 25. Treasurer Rhonda Meserole presented a $12 million spending plan, cutting $424,198 from the original draft in February, which Ms. Mulcahy said will keep the budget below the state’s 2 percent cap.

According to Ms. Meserole, most of the reductions were in reducing the purchase of new equipment, and the village is still waiting on assessed values, which ultimately will determine the tax rate.

If adopted, it increases spending by 4.88 percent over the adopted $11.47 million budget for 2019-20. The draft spending plan also included a proposed $703,475 sewer district budget for 2020-21.

The Village Board tentatively scheduled a public hearing for its April 14 meeting, another session to be held via teleconference.

In Southampton Village, Mayor Jesse Warren presented a tentative budget with a proposed tax levy of $25.6 million, $22,000 under the state’s 2 percent cap on tax levy increases. It calls for a tax rate of $20.33 per $100 of assessed valuation; that’s a tax bill of about $16,000 for a $2 million home. The budget includes a $400,000 contingency fund to serve as a safeguard against economic impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic.

The mayor’s budget increases spending by 4.6 percent and provides $350,000 in funding for water quality and environmental protection projects.

In a release this week, Mr. Warren offered thanks to village department heads and Village Administrator Russell Kratoville for their assistance. A draft is available on the village website in the document center; a public hearing will be held on April 9.

In Sagaponack Village, the tentative budget will pierce the state tax cap by $38,020. It calls for a flat rate of 0.0614 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The assessment has increased from last year, and the budget proposes a 2.5 percent spending increase.
Mayor Donald Louchheim said the village pierces the cap out of necessity each year, and in 15 years he has never received public comment during budget hearings because the rate remains so low.

The village will host a hearing on April 13, as mandated by law. It will not be open to the public, as Village Hall is closed. The hearing will be recorded per executive order, and officials will allow a written comment period.

In Quogue Village, a hearing on the budget was slated for Tuesday, April 7, as a teleconference. The tentative budget prepared by Mayor Peter Sartorius calls for a tax rate of $1.8 per $1,000 of assessed valuation and total appropriations to be raised by the property tax levy of $6.9 million, with proposed general fund appropriations of $8.59 million.

In Westhampton Beach, Mayor Maria Moore plans to hold a public hearing on the village spending plan on April 9 via Zoom teleconference.

“The village’s 2020-2021 proposed budget controls costs and provides for necessary services, and includes funds for infrastructure projects while staying under the tax cap,” the mayor summarized. It proposes $11.198 million in total expenditures, up from $10.82 million last year.

The budget predicts an increase in revenue of $98,939 and appropriated surplus of $100,000. Last year’s budget included $257,000 in appropriated surplus.
The property tax levy will increase by 4.9 percent, from $8.84 million last year to $9.28 million.

The Village of West Hampton Dunes will hold a public hearing on its proposed budget on April 13 at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom meeting. Last year’s adopted budget predicted expenditures totaling $2.08 million. This year’s tentative spending plan is up by $32,081, with an anticipation of expenditures totaling $2.11 million.

It estimates total revenues, from property taxes, special districts, fees, and aid from the state and federal government of $2.11 million, up from $2.08 million in the adopted 2019-20 budget, with $1.08 million in property taxes to be collected compared to $1.77 million for last year’s adopted plan. Posted online April 6, the preliminary budget calls for a tax rate of .03196 percent.

The Village of North Haven will hold its budget hearing on April 21. The proposed budget is $1,856,750 — an increase of $18,667 over the current budget of $1,868,083, or a 1.02 percent increase in expenditures. Currently, the tax rate is 0.4863 per $1,000 of assessed value.

If the board does not pierce the cap, the tax rate will be 0.4772 per $1,000 of taxable assessed value. With the revenue side of the budget unconfirmed, the trustees may discuss piercing the tax cap at the April 21 meeting.

East Hampton Village’s fiscal year is different, running from August 1 through the following July 31. Said Administrator Rebecca Molinaro Hansen, “Fortunately, we have a little more time to see how the economy, etc., will respond to the current public health crisis. I have just begun budget preparations and have been closely monitoring our current revenue forecast for the end of this fiscal year. The village has until July1 to adopt its budget.”

Additional reporting by Kathryn Menu.