Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman presented a tentative 2022 budget of $113.8 million, virtually via email, to the Town Board on Tuesday night, September 28. During the board’s meeting, held via Zoom teleconference, Mr. Schneiderman asked for confirmation from his colleagues that they had received the budget, to which board members said they had.
Typically, by law, the tentative budget, due by September 30, is given to the town clerk, who distributes it to the members of the board. Once that occurs, the budget becomes a public document, with immediate availability. However, due to the use of teleconference, the budget was not immediately distributed. Within the hour, it was posted online and can be found on the town website under the prompt for the supervisor’s office, which is located beneath the heading “government.”
The tentative budget calls for appropriations of $113,864,162, a 5.8-percent increase over last year’s adopted spending plan. There are $35,766,272 in revenues anticipated, and a tax levy of $73,620,103 expected. There’s a 2.5-percent increase in the total tax levy.
If adopted as presented, it will set a tax rate of $1.3644 per $1,000 of assessed value. There’s a 1-percent decrease in the tax rate for the general fund, Mr. Schneiderman emphasized.
“A budget is a really critical document in municipal government,” the supervisor said. It’s the blueprint for the upcoming year and, he said, “It’s important that we get it right.”
The budget for 2022 stays within the New York State mandated 2-percent tax levy cap, coming in $700,000 less than what could have been allocated.
“A lot of assumptions go into budgeting,” the supervisor said. “Nobody has a crystal ball.” He noted that according to the census, the town’s population has increased 22 percent. Last year, when delivering his 2021 budget, he spoke of a jump in population due to people moving into their summer homes year ’round or purchasing houses to escape the pandemic in New York City.
Overall, Mr. Schneiderman said, “the budget funds all the things I believe need to get funded.” There aren’t a lot of new programs proposed and added staff, particularly in the realm of public safety, keeping the number of town employees below historic levels.
Mr. Schneiderman praised town comptroller Leonard Marchese, who he said met with department heads, listened to their lists of needs and attempted to determine where efficiencies could be created.
“Len has been conservative in terms of anticipating revenues and realistic on expenses,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “For years, we’ve enjoyed the benefits of accurate budgeting.”
The supervisor recalled that when he took office in 2016, the town’s debt was $123.6 million. This year, he’s projecting debt at $83.9 million for a 33-percent reduction in town’s bonded indebtedness.
When Mr. Schneiderman took office, the town had $34 million in reserves; by the end of this year it is expected to reach $54.7 million. Overall fund balances have increased 98 percent since 2013
The capital budget calls for $25 million in spending for infrastructure projects. More than half of those projects will be paid for with cash, said Mr. Marchese.
“You can’t underestimate the power of paying down debt,” Mr. Marchese said. “Every year now — it’s unprecedented — we’re making big investments in the town … Spending money on community centers, roads, drainage, the beaches. To write checks and not having to borrow is unprecedented in modern government budgeting,” the comptroller said asserting the document was a “very proactive budget that invests in the community.”