North Haven’s Budget Up, But Tax Rate’s Down

Horticulturalist Chris Miller with one of North Haven’s 4-poster stations, which kill the ticks that form masses on the ears and necks of deer by applying a permethrin solution with vertical rollers as they feed on cracked corn. Peter Boody photo

The North Haven Village Board will present a $1.93-million budget plan to the public for the 2021-22 fiscal year at a hearing at its next regular monthly Zoom meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 20.

The plan, which the board is expected to adopt after the hearing, would increase spending by 5.23 percent over the current year’s $1.834-million budget, with much of that increase the result of an expected 10.58-percent rise in the cost of Sag Harbor’s fire and ambulance services.

Nevertheless, the anticipated tax rate is expected to drop slightly, according to Clerk Treasurer Eileen Tuohy, from the current rate of 0.5508 per $1,000 of assessed value to 0.5326.

Three other hearings are also scheduled for the April 20 meeting on proposals to ease and clarify the village’s vegetative clearing restrictions; establish a special tax district to fund an annual village leaf-pickup on public roads so that homeowners on private roads, who do not receive the service, don’t have to pay for it; and to pierce the state-mandated cap on increases in the tax levy.

That authorization, which requires a super majority to pass, is an annual pro forma step that should prove unnecessary because the proposed budget will not require a tax levy increase above the state limit of approximately 2 percent, Ms. Tuohy reported at a Village Board budget work session on March 30.

One reason for the sharper than usual hike in Sag Harbor’s fire and ambulance services is the expected increase from 12 hours a day to 24-hour paid paramedic coverage, Ms. Tuohy told the board, as well as the hiring of a full-time driver and EMT. Those proposals were subject to approval by the Sag Harbor Village Board at a budget meeting set for April 13, Ms. Tuohy said.

The expected price hike for North Haven’s fire and ambulance coverage accounts for about $70,000 of the anticipated $96,000 in increased spending for the coming fiscal year.

Even though the board has proposed funding future leaf pick-ups through a special assessment district that will include only properties on public roads, the budget includes about $50,000 to cover the service this fall. Once the special district is legally created and functional, the money “will be added back,” Ms. Tuohy explained.

About three-quarters of those costs were dropped from the current year’s budget because the village intended to provide leaf pick-up services only for qualifying seniors on public roads. That “didn’t work out so well,” Ms. Tuohy noted, as many other homeowners either ignored or were not aware of the program’s limits and left their leaves on the roadside, too.

Property owners in the special assessment district will be charged the same flat rate to be determined by evenly dividing the cost of the service by the number of properties served, or about $144 each. The village had been considering using property size or assessed value to determine fees, Ms. Tuohy said, but those alternatives would have resulted in wildly divergent fees ranging from $20 to $5,000, she explained.

The budget includes a proposed $40,000 decrease in funding for North Haven’s unique 4-poster tick-control program, which was severely impacted by a new state DEC requirement that the village obtain written permission from every property owner whose yard is within 750 feet of any of the units.

The new rule “really created a big problem,” Mayor Jeff Sander said at the March 30 session, as some owners never responded to requests for written permission and a few said “no.”

The mayor said only three of the village’s 18 4-poster units remained in operation during the past tick season, reducing the expense of the program from an anticipated $100,000 to $34,000. But because the village is making a new effort to obtain permissions or relocate some units, the village’s state-licensed contractor, horticulturalist Chris Miller, expects to be able to deploy eight or nine units this season, the mayor said, “so I decided to keep it in” the budget.

The mayor noted that the 4-posters, which coat the heads and necks of deer with a permethrin tickicide as they feed on cracked corn, are not favored by the state DEC because the agency opposes and normally bars the feeding or baiting of deer. He said a county tick advisory committee is also “very negative” about 4-posters.

But the units seem to be highly effective, the mayor noted. He said deer hunter John Rocchetta, who runs the village’s bow hunt, had told him that he sees far fewer ticks “in North Haven than anywhere else he travels on the East End.”