By Stephen J. Kotz
The Southampton Town Board, in a split vote, approved an $88.6 million budget on Thursday, November 20. Meanwhile, in East Hampton Town, a $71.6 million budget was passed unanimously that same evening.
In Southampton, spending was increased by about $160,000 from the original budget put forth by Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst in September, but taxes will remain flat at $1.43 per $1,000. Spending is up year to year by about $3 million.
Republican Councilwoman Christine Scalera and Councilman Stan Glinka voted against the Southampton budget, which was supported by Supervisor Throne-Holst, Democratic Councilwoman Bridget Fleming and Independence Party Councilman Brad Bender.
Most of the spending increases were earmarked for eight new hires at the Southampton Town Police, other new positions at town hall and additional spending for highway work.
Southampton, like East Hampton, included $100,000 for a wastewater management plans and $25,000 for the South Fork Behavioral Health Care Initiative.
Taxes remain level, despite the spending increase, in large part because the town has enjoyed a windfall in the form of a half billion dollar increase in its total assessed valuation, thanks to a strong local real estate market.
In East Hampton, the board added some $96,000 to Supervisor Larry Cantwell’s original budget, which, in turn, increased spending by $2.1 million over last year.
Taxes are expected to rise by 3.2 percent for residents of East Hampton Village and 2 percent for those living outside the village. This translates to a $14.32 increase for a house valued at $550,000 outside the village and $23.08 for one within the village boundaries.
The actual tax rates are expected to be $11.63 per $100 for village residents and $28.90 per $100 outside the village.
East Hampton’s budget has undergone some minor changes since Supervisor Cantwell introduced it in September. Among the major changes was the elimination of $50,000 in proposed revenue for a townwide rental registry, which has since been put on hold, but that has been more than offset by an expected $105,000 increase in county aid for police as well as $80,000 in fees for property leased as potential solar farm sites.
The town also reduced its reliance on reserves by $200,000 over he previous budget, Supervisor Cantwell said in a budget message.
The town is anticipating $965,000 in non-tax revenues, a 4.5-percent increase over last year, with about $757,000 of that expected to come from increased airport fees for fuel sales, landing fees and other sources.
The town is also expecting to realize savings of $459,000 by closing the scavenger waste plant
East Hampton’s budget is more than $300,000 below the state-mandated tax levy cap. Although some have criticized the high revenue estimates in the budget, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli reviewed the preliminary budget earlier this month and deemed the significant revenue and expenditure projections in the tentative budget reasonable.