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Nov 22, 2019 4:43 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Approves 2020 Operating Budget

Southampton Town Board members adopted the 2020 budget on November 20. GREG WEHNER
Nov 25, 2019 4:01 PM

The Southampton Town Board this week approved a $105.5 million budget for 2020 that represents a 2.85 increase in spending.

At the same time, the proposal would cut the property tax rate by nearly 6 percent — the largest rate cut Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said he has seen since putting budgets together for municipalities.

At a special budget meeting on November 20, Mr. Schneiderman and Town Board members Tommy John Schiavoni, John Bouvier and Julie Lofstad all voted in favor of a resolution to adopt the budget, while Christine Scalera recused herself — the following resolution in the meeting appointed her as deputy town attorney starting on January 1, 2020.

The 6 percent tax rate reduction is due to fact that the overall assessed value of land in the town is continuing to rise, so much that even while cutting the tax rate by 5.8 percent, from $1.38 to $1.30 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, the tax levy — the total amount of property taxes to be collected — will rise from $67,264,269 to $69,742,241, or by 3.41 percent. The impact on individual tax bills varies based on assessed value and other factors.

The same level of services that the town provided in 2019 will be maintained in 2020, officials said, and employees will still see a 2 percent increase in benefits and salaries.

Adjustments were made, as well, that reflected the expectation that less money will come in from services such as waste management, because the market demand for recyclables has dropped. Additionally, less money is coming in from the Justice Court, because it is processing less in fines and fees.

The budget allows for the creation of two positions in the Parks Department: a recreation director and someone to work at the parks. It also allows, through the Community Preservation Fund, the hiring of an environmental analyst.

Initially, the budget called for raising the cost of an annual beach parking pass from $40 to $50, but, according to Mr. Schneiderman, that was dropped: “When we looked at the actual revenues that came in this year … it was higher than we budgeted, and we felt it wasn’t necessary to increase that fee.”

Although the cost for a resident parking pass did not increase, the senior rate for the beach parking pass, which was already discounted, increased from $25 to $30.

Several necessary projects will see quite a bit of money from the adopted budget, including efforts to improve the Hampton Bays Water District, renovations associated with the Hampton Bays Senior Center acquisition, water quality projects and the construction of a new Southampton Ambulance facility, which is expected to cost approximately $3.5 million.

A public hearing on the ambulance facility proposition will take place on December 19 at 11 a.m. in Town Hall.

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