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Jun 11, 2018 3:59 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Voters To Decide On Trustees Taxing District

Scott Horowitz, treasurer and secretary for the Town Trustees, hopes his board can form its own taxing district. AMANDA BERNOCCO
Jun 12, 2018 1:53 PM

Southampton Town residents will have the opportunity to vote—as early as this November—to give the Town Trustees the authority to form their own taxing district.

The Trustees have been pushing for years to become financially independent from the Town Board and begin collecting their own taxes with a separate line on town property tax bills, rather than relying heavily on funding allocated by the Town Board.

Scott Horowitz, secretary and treasurer of the Trustees, said a resolution approved by the Town Board this week would lead to “historic legislation” in the town.

At a special meeting on June 7, the Town Board passed a resolution expressing its support of state legislation that gives the town “home rule” in the creation of the new taxing district. The legislation, which is being drafted by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, is needed to allow the Trustees to form a taxing district, but the “home rule” allows the town to have the final say, explained Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman.

A townwide referendum then would be held, asking voters to decide if the taxing district should be formed. If the voters agree, the Town Board will pass a local law to create the district.

Mr. Horowitz said last week that he appreciates the Town Board’s support of the Board of Trustees in its long mission to handle its own finances. “We need each other,” he said. “We need to respect and work together.”

Mr. Horowitz stressed that the maneuver would not increase residents’ tax bills. Currently, the town budget contains an expenditure line to fund the Board of Trustees—a separate and equal board to the Town Board, originally created in the 17th century by the Dongan Patent—but that would be eliminated if the Trustees were to collect their own revenues on a separate line, canceling it out.

Like other taxable entities, including fire districts and public libraries, the Town Trustees would be subject to a 2 percent state cap on tax levy increases from year to year.

“I think it’s a good plan,” Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni observed during the special meeting.

During the same meeting, the Town Board also voted in support of state legislation that would allow the town to fully take over maintenance costs for the Shinnecock Commercial Fishing Dock. Currently, a maintenance agreement between the town and Suffolk County calls for the costs of any capital repairs to the facility to be split 50-50.

Because the facility is on parkland, state legislation is required to allow the county to transfer the property to the town.

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By knitter (1941), Southampton on Jun 12, 18 3:23 PM
The same guys that raised the permit fees are telling us our taxes won't go up? The same guys that gave away Rose Hill and made sweetheart deals for parking with the bar their family hangs out at are telling us they can be trust worthy and responsible with our money? Sounds about right.
By Gillnetter (105), Hampton Bays on Jun 13, 18 8:34 AM
Not sure they can be trusted to turn off the lights after a meeting.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Jun 13, 18 10:25 AM
Previous leaders were unreliable day or night, lights on or off. Things are so much better now. How can we condemn just a fraction of the trustees for a unanimous decision? Why throw out the baby with the bath water? Just fix the agreement. Or should we side with the hypocrites who showed up last week?
By Southampton Patrick (13), Southampton on Jun 13, 18 10:48 PM
Since the previous Trustee Boards were unreliable, and we know how this Board operates, what choice do we have but demand the Town disband the Trustees. Or at the very least remove every member of the Town Trustees at the first opportunity.
By CleanWaters (80), Southampton on Jun 14, 18 5:26 AM
Do the Trustees have a maintenance Dept. anymore? Signs not in the water, not much of anything being done.
By Resident tax (186), Hampton bays ny on Jun 19, 18 1:43 PM