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Jan 24, 2012 10:57 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Quogue Village Might Look To Pierce State Tax Cap

Jan 24, 2012 5:24 PM

The Quogue Village Board voted Friday to set a public hearing next month to discuss the possibility of piercing the state’s new 2-percent tax cap as part of the village’s 2012-13 budget.

Though he has not yet crunched the numbers for next year’s spending plan, Quogue Mayor Peter Sartorius said earlier this week that he wants to keep all options open—including the possibility of exceeding the tax cap if necessary to balance next year’s budget. The village’s fiscal year runs from June 1 until May 31, and the board must adopt next year’s budget by the end of April.

“We are doing this to protect ourselves in case we want to breach the cap,” he said of next month’s public hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, February 15, at 4 p.m.

The village’s current $7.2 million budget included a 3-percent increase in spending that translated into a 3.8-percent increase in the village’s tax rate, which went from $1.81 to $1.88 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Last year, the village’s tax levy increased about 3.9 percent from the previous fiscal year, a jump from approximately $5.9 million to $6.1 million, according to Mr. Sartorius.

The new tax cap limits how much both local governments and school districts can collect in new taxes each year. Under the new rules, the tax levy, which is the total amount of property tax revenue collected, cannot be increased by more than 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower, in any given year.

Mr. Sartorius explained that the village can bypass the cap if three out of five board members, or 60 percent of the board, approve the budget. The mayor, who said he will start working on the budget in February, said he does not yet know how much spending will go up next year, or how that will impact village taxes. Mr. Sartorius said he hopes to share his proposed budget with the board in March.

Ethics Board Staffed

Also on Friday, the Village Board approved the appointments of three Quogue residents who will sit on the village’s new Board of Ethics. Mr. Sartorius explained that the village code has called for the establishment of an ethics board since a provision was adopted in 1970, but one was never created—something that Mr. Sartorius dismissed as an oversight.

The provision states that one of the three board members can be a village employee. Village Clerk Marcia Koziarz will be joined on the ethics board by Christina Kepner, a former investment banker, and James Tolan, a lawyer at Dechert LLP in Manhattan.

“Christina Kepner and Jim Tolan are both people I have known for a long time in the village, and they are people the trustees know well,” Mr. Sartorius said on Monday. “I would regard them as good citizens—smart, with common sense, and ethical should there be questions.”

According to Mr. Sartorius, the Board of Ethics will offer advice to all of the village’s elected and appointed officials, as well as paid employees, when needed. The mayor said he does not anticipate them meeting anytime soon.

“I am honored to be on the board along with the other two appointees,” Ms. Koziarz said. “Together, I know we will do a good job.”

Paying For Repairs

The Quogue Village Board on Friday approved a resolution that will pay DC Electric Inc., with offices in Quogue, as much as $15,000 to repair almost a dozen streetlights that were vandalized late last year.

On December 28, 11 streetlights on Midhampton Court and Suffolk Avenue were destroyed by vandals. After a short discussion, village trustees agreed to replace the lights with an upgraded model that will feature candescent light bulbs. Mr. Sartorius explained that the village must upgrade all of its exterior streetlights by 2014.

“We want to have compliant lights, so we won’t have to replace them later,” he said.

No arrests have been made in connection with the vandalism, according to Quogue Village Police.

Public Hearings Slated

Finally, the board scheduled two additional public hearings for February 15.

The first will address possibly easing the regulations regarding the placement of trash containers in front of residences. Currently, garbage cans can be placed in front of homes only on trash pick-up days and the receptacles must remain out of plain sight. The proposed revision will allow the cans to remain visible until the evenings on garbage collection days.

The second hearing is being held to discuss whether private residences should be allowed to have free-standing basketball hoops in driveways as long as they do not encroach on public roads. Currently, basketball hoops and backboards are permitted in the village only if they are attached to a residential structure.

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I always thought we were in great shape fiscally.; because of our small school, etc. What gives?
By clamdigger (85), Quogue on Jan 24, 12 5:23 PM
All Government is spend happy. How about they look to decrease taxes? Is that against the rules? Spend Spend Spend. One day we will not have any more money to pay taxes with.

Think outside the box Village of Quogue.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Jan 24, 12 8:57 PM
2 members liked this comment
According to the wedsite, Zillow, the property values have slipped below what we are assessed at. When do you suppose this will be reflected in a reduction in our property taxes? Has anyone noticed how much house prices have had to be adjusted downward and even then they aren't selling. Unfortunately, politicians have their heads in the sand and want to exceed a mandated 2 percent tax cap to fund their own mistakes.
By Tennyson (77), Quogue on Jan 25, 12 5:13 PM