The East Hampton Village Board’s tentative 2018-2019 budget was unveiled at last Thursday’s work session at $22,245,939, with a spending increase of $613,653 or a roughly three percent increase.
The tax rate increased by 74 cents or 2.5 percent from $29.25 in the current budget to $29.99 per $100 of assessed valuation. Assessments from the previous year increased according to the tentative tax roll, which is reflected in a property tax revenue increase of three percent or $396,400 from last year. Non-taxable revenue also increased by three percent or $217,253.
Mayor Paul Rickenbach attributed the spending increase largely to employee health insurance, which saw a 10 percent increase in single and family health insurance premiums. A small portion of the health insurance premiums is offset by employee contributions, which have also increased, he said.
Funding was also increased for the village’s annual lighting and crosswalk maintenance, and various capital projects. Money budgeted for its Length of Service Award Program, which sets aside a form of pension for volunteer ambulance company and fire department volunteers, also increased, according to Rickenbach.
The village also set aside funding in the budget to replace many roofs, such as those at the Sea Spray Cottages, the Department of Public Works Garage, and Village Hall. Funding has also been set aside to install and replace LED fixtures throughout the village.
Overall, Rickenbach said overtime costs decreased for the village’s emergency communications department for the second year in a row, primarily because it is fully staffed.
Funds have been earmarked for the ambulance company, fire department, and DPW for future projects, including a $500,000 upgrade to the department’s emergency communications system. It’s an increase of $100,000 over the current fiscal year, and the village plans to use its fund balance to cover the cost, which will, in effect, eliminate the need for long-term borrowing, according to Rickenbach.
One hundred thousand in funding has been reserved for roadways, as the village intends to take a “more aggressive approach” to its road maintenance program, he said.
The budget included an increase of $85,000 in non-property revenue, which derives from building department and mortgage fees, as well as funding from the New York State Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program.
Rickenbach said there will probably be some “tweaking” as the board of trustees moves ahead.
“The Village of East Hampton has been fortunate to be able to maintain its healthy financial outlook and a very modest debt burden,” he said. “We strive to provide the best possible services for our residents while maintaining an appropriate level of spending and modest revenue increases.”
Village Administrator Becky Molinaro Hansen said she expects some minor changes to the budget as there has already been a $22,000 decrease in the village’s workers’ compensation policy from what was originally projected.
Another change could come from plans to demolish the former Baker house to make way for a parking lot, as there is only enough money to fund the demolition, she noted. The board has to choose whether to split the project and accept the lowest bid for $171,000, with the first phase of the project completed in the fall, and the other in the spring, or the board could hold the project into the spring when there is more funding available, she said.
A copy of the village’s budget is available for review by the public at village hall. The board of trustees will likely discuss the document at its regular meeting on May 18. A public hearing will likely be set for June 7, she said. If adopted, the budget will go into effect on August 1.