Modest Tax Increase Proposed In East Hampton Budget

East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc released his proposed budget for 2020 this week, calling for 2.1-percent tax increase.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc has proposed a 2020 town operating budget of $81,867,501 that would increase spending by about 1.4 percent and the taxes by about 2.3 percent if adopted as proposed.

Mr. Van Scoyoc has proposed about $1.14 million in new spending over the current budget, mostly driven by salary increases for town employees.

Town residents would see their tax rate increase 2.29 percent next year, to $31.54 per $100 of assessed value, while those living within the incorporated villages of East Hampton or Sag Harbor would see an increase of about 1.7 percent, to $12.02 per $100 of assessed value. The budget projects that homeowners with a house assessed at about $4,000, or $690,000 market value, would see their tax bill go up about $28 for the year, or only $8.50 if the house is in a village.

Despite raising the tax levy by about 3.2 percent,to $54,590,595, the proposed levy remains under the state-mandated tax cap for East Hampton Town because of allowances in the state calculations for rising assessment values and credits from last year’s budgeting.
Mr. Van Scoyoc has proposed using $1.745 million from the town’s $42 million in reserved surplus funds to offset some spending. The town’s reserves are projected to still be more than $41 million at the end of the year — a level the Van Scoyoc administration hopes will ensure that credit rating agencies maintain the town’s AAA bond rating, the highest available.

As usual, the budgeted salaries and benefits for the town’s current 329 employees make up almost 60 percent of the proposed spending, at $48.3 million — an increase of about $958,962 over this year, due to contractual and merit raises and promotions.
About $10.3 million of the total costs comes from health insurance premiums alone — and current and former employees pick up another $595,000 worth of costs in premium deductions or reimbursements.

The budget creates two new full-time positions: a carpenter in the Buildings and Grounds Department and a new Planning Department planner. The carpenter will earn $95,291 in salary and benefits and the planner $101,000.

The position of “town engineer” is being wholly eliminated in 2020 because, Mr. Van Scoyoc’s budget message said, the position has become unnecessary with the increased use of outside engineers on a project-by-project basis. The town engineer, Tom Talmage, was to earn $94,404 this year.

The budget also appropriates $25,880 in new spending for the Parks Department and $48,000 for the Recreation Department for additional part-time employees and $38,000 to fund a starting pay increase for new town lifeguards.

The budget also allocates $20,000 for a new part-time “greeter” for the entrance to the Town Hall offices to direct visitors during the busy summer season.