$194.2 million spending plan maintains services and stays within state tax cap
The Huntington Town Board, at a special meeting November 20, approved a $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.
At the special meeting, the Board also approved the 2018 Capital Budget and the assessment rolls for the Huntington and Centerport Sewer Districts.
The budget 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.
The 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 D. Conte Community Center at the former New York State 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.
The special Town Board meeting was the second board meeting this month. At the regular board meeting November 9, the Town Board:
-- approved a new five-year contract negotiated with the union representing the Town’s white-collar employees. The contract is subject to ratification by the members of the union, Local 852 of the Civil Service Employees Association.
-- scheduled a December 13 public hearing to consider awarding a license agreement to The Little Shelter to operate the Town of Huntington’s cat shelter on Deposit Road in East Northport.
-- appointed Joseph Perry as a commissioner of the South Huntington Water district, to fill the vacancy created by the death of Dominick Feeney.
-- scheduled a December 13 public hearing on a proposal to limit all Town elected officials to no more than three consecutive terms in office. The limit would apply to those elected to office in the year 2017 and thereafter.
-- appropriated a total of $380,000 for construction and installation of the Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo Spray Park at Elwood Park. The funding will be split among the EOSPA Park Improvement Fund, the Neighborhood Park Fund and the Seasons park improvement payment.
-- voted to keep Spring, Summer and Autumn wet storage fees at Town marinas at the current rates of $90 per square foot for vessels 20 feet and under and $100 per foot for vessels over 20 feet.
-- voted to waive parking meter fees in Huntington Village for the holiday shopping season, beginning November 24, 2017 and ending January 1, 2018.