Supervisor Petrone Presents 2018 Budget
$194.2 million spending plan maintains services and stays within state tax cap
Huntington Supervisor Frank P. Petrone, at the September 19 Town Board meeting, presented a proposed $194.2 million budget for 2018, a spending plan that maintains all Town services at current levels and calls for a tax levy that is under the state-mandated tax cap.
The proposal represents a $4.2 million spending increase over 2017, with the hike largely attributable to higher health care costs. The tax levy is projected to increase by $2.12 million, or 1.80 percent. That is below the state tax cap of 1.84 percent. Many residents, however, could experience a smaller tax increase: the tax levy increase for the three major funds – General Fund, Highway Fund and Refuse District Fund – is only 1.1 percent.
Residents in the Town’s two ambulance districts – Huntington and Commack – will see decreases in the tax levies for those funds, 12.6 percent in Huntington and 3.18 percent in Commack. The tax decreases reflect revenues from billing patients’ insurance companies, which the Commack Ambulance Squad began in 2016 and the Huntington Community First Aid Squad began this year.
The budget holds the line on spending while maintaining current levels of service. While the budget does not call for any layoffs, it does forecast a small decrease in staffing due to attrition.
Supervisor Petrone’s budget also calls for capital spending at the same level as in 2017, $16.6 million, and continues the policy of retiring more debt than the Town incurs. That policy has been a key contributor to maintaining the Town’s AAA bond rating.
The Capital Budget does fund two very special projects: $3.75 million to begin construction of the James E. Conte Community Center at the former Armory in Huntington Station and $3 million to build a new Animal Shelter adjacent to Mill Dam Park in Halesite. The Town also will construct its first two spray parks – one at Manor Field Park, next to the Conte Center, and the other at Elwood Park, in memory of New York City Police Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, who was killed in the line of duty last year. Sgt. Tuozzolo lived near Elwood Park.
Supervisor Petrone used the occasion of his budget message – his final one after 24 years as Supervisor – to renew his call for changes to the Tax Cap Act.
“I continue to advocate for changes to the Tax Cap Act that will allow the Town to expand upon existing successful programs – such as the continuation of the Town Open Space Bond Act, and to develop new economic drivers, like the formation of special improvement districts which deal with issue specific concerns and solutions, and the establishment of new Business Improvement Districts to further enhance our small business communities,” Supervisor Petrone wrote. “I continue to advocate that the Tax Cap Act should be amended to exclude from the Cap calculation, those programs specifically approved by voters in a referendum vote. To date, these efforts have not been supported by the State. I do feel however this will become an eventuality, as municipalities will be forced to discontinue successful programming from their agendas simply because the Cap calculation does not afford us the same exceptions as other taxing jurisdictions are able to take advantage of.”
The Town Board scheduled a public hearing for 6 p.m. on October 17, 2017.
To read the budget click here:
In other action, the Town Board:
— approved a change in Town Code with respect to fences around swimming pools, allowing an adjoining property owner’s fence to help satisfy the requirement that there be a barrier around a pool on all sides. If a property owner chooses to erect his or her own fence, the code change requires it be the same height as the neighbor’s.
— declared the Town’s support of a suit brought by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman challenging the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to designate a permanent open water site for the disposal of dredge spoils in the coastal waters of Eastern Long Island Sound.
— approved waiving adoption fees at the Town Animal Shelter for pit bulls and pit bull mixes from October 1 to 31, 2017, which is Pit Bull Awareness Month, as well as offering a free spaying and neutering program for pit bulls and pit bull mixes during the month.
— approved executing an agreement with Google Transit Online to integrate HART Bus schedule information with Google Maps.
— set an October 17, 2017 public hearing to consider the special use permit application by Kids Plus for a congregate care facility at 145 Cuba Hill Road, Greenlawn. If approved, this would be the first such permit issued under the Town’s new congregate care regulations.
— appropriated $12,000 from the Environmental Open Space and Park Improvement Fund to purchase 60 trees for Heckscher Park, completing the planting of 100 trees in commemoration of the park’s 100th anniversary. The board also approved a $5,000 appropriation from the same fund to create uniform trail signage at Town parks, focusing on the 42 trails identified in the Town Trails Guide.
— accepted an exhibit on loan for the newly-renovated farmhouse at Gateway Park. The building will be known as the Max and Rosie Teich Homestead. They operated a dairy farm at the property in the early 20th Century. The exhibit, curated Toby Kissam of the Huntington Historical Society, recreates the medical office of Dr. Samuel Teich, who was raised in the house. Over the course of his medical career in Huntington, Dr. Teich delivered approximately 10,000 babies. The exhibit is expected to be ready when the farmhouse opens to the public next month.
— set a November 9, 2017 public hearing on an application to rezone a parcel on Deer Park Avenue, south of Half Hollow Road in Dix Hills to allow for an 86-unit senior community.
— authorized an extension of the contract with Power Crush Inc. to take ash from the Resource Recovery Facility to the Town of Brookhaven landfill. He contract will provide for the lawful, timely, safe and reliable disposal of approximately 85,000 tons of residue a year.