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Apr 10, 2012 5:50 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Village Board Hopes To Stay Under Tax Cap

Apr 11, 2012 1:03 PM

The Westhampton Beach Village Board approved a local law last Thursday night that authorizes it to pierce the state’s new 2 percent cap on the tax levy, if necessary, when adopting its 2012-13 budget.

Even though board members unanimously approved the measure, Westhampton Beach Village Attorney Richard Haefeli stressed during last week’s meeting that the law is just a precaution and that the village has no intention of piercing the tax cap. He warned, however, that Southampton Town has been providing the village with fluctuating assessments figures, noting that those could possibly push the tax levy over 2 percent.

As things now stand, the village’s proposed $9.52 million budget for 2012-13, which increases overall spending by 2 percent over this year’s $9.33 million plan, will also bump up the tax levy by 1.99 percent, from almost $7.76 million this year to just over $7.91 million next year, according to a copy of the budget.

“Before the cap they would adopt a budget based on the assessment and if the assessment changed, it wouldn’t matter,” Mr. Haefeli said. “Now because of the 2 percent, the village has to have something in place in case something like that should happen.”

At the same meeting, Village Board members opened a public hearing regarding next year’s proposed budget. However, due to the fluctuating tax assessments, the hearing will remain open until their next work session on Wednesday, April 18, when it will be discussed further. The village must adopt its budget by May 1.

If the $9.52 million spending plan is adopted without any changes, the village’s tax rate is expected to increase by about 5 percent, from $2.68 to $2.81 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. That means that a taxpayer whose home is assessed at $1 million can expect to pay about $2,810 in village property taxes next year, or $130 more than this year.

“We are in good shape here,” Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller said during the meeting.

Earlier, officials noted that one of the biggest increases in expenditures next year will fall under the village’s state retirement pension costs, which are jumping 15 percent, from $718,904 this year to an estimated $825,000 next year. As a result, the village expects to spend approximately $2.48 million on employee benefits next year, or 4.8 percent more than the current year.

The mayor also announced last week that the village has to set aside an estimated $10,000 to make mandatory upgrades to all of its police radios. He also noted that the board was able to stay under the tax cap by not filling currently vacant positions within the village’s Police Department and Department of Public Works.

“The budget is fairly flat for now,” Mr. Teller said. “When things settle down a bit, we will close the hearing.”

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I hope they learn to live within our means and make necessary cuts to keep taxes affordable. How about a few years of decreases? My printing press is starting to wear out.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Apr 13, 12 8:36 AM