Huntington – Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci has released the Supervisor’s Tentative Budget for 2022, presented to the Huntington Town Board by Town Clerk Andrew P. Raia at the September 14, 2021 Town Board Meeting, and in keeping with changes Lupinacci made to make the budget process more transparent at the start of his administration, the 2022 budget process will include public presentations relating to budget estimates.
In a letter addressed to his fellow Town Board members, Supervisor Lupinacci outlined his approach to the tentative budget:
“As Supervisor and Chief Financial Officer of the Town of Huntington, I am pleased to present my fourth Tentative Operating and Capital Budget for the Town of Huntington for 2022. I wish to thank the Town Comptroller’s Office, members of my staff, and all Town Department directors and their deputies for their input and guidance throughout this step in the budget process.
“Pursuant to New York State Town Law Section 106, I present this Tentative Budget for your consideration. I have taken a conservative approach to expenditure allocations, using previous actuals as a baseline for these costs. Particular focus was given to employee salaries, overtime and benefits. In addition, fuel, energy and other utility costs, contractual expenses and debt service payments were analyzed. I have incorporated realistic revenue budgeting, and have not relied upon one shot revenues as a means of balancing the 2022 Tentative Budget. We continue to provide current levels of service, despite a contractual collective bargaining salary increase for all union employees.
“As in prior years, the Town must comply with the New York State Tax Cap Act. This Act limits a local government’s overall growth in the property tax levy to 2.00% over the prior year’s levy, or to the rate of inflation, whichever is less. The 2022 Tentative Budget falls within the State mandated tax cap for 2022. The 2022 allowable levy growth factor is 2.00% with a tax base growth factor of .34% and an available carryover savings (.11%) which allows us a proposed increase of 2.45% over the 2021 tax levy without piercing the 2% Tax Cap. Also, despite the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Town remains in full compliance with the Tax Cap.
“Since assuming office in 2018, I have continuously worked to increase overall governmental transparency, efficiency and accessibility. The live streaming of events has maintained its widespread approval as it brings our various proceedings directly to the residents, which is a vital amenity, especially during the pandemic restrictions associated with the Governor’s executive orders. Updating the Town website and increasing communications with residents on social media and on government access television channels is an ongoing effort. The Town of Huntington is and will remain a model for an open and participatory government.
“Moody's Investors Services maintained the Town’s AAA bond rating, the second consecutive year during pandemic conditions that the Town has achieved this impressive fiscal milestone. This achievement has allowed the Town to save taxpayer funds in 2021 by refinancing $3,700,000 in outstanding bonds. Additionally, for the 22nd consecutive year, the Town has received a Certificate of Achievement from the national organization representing government finance professionals for transparency in financial reporting practices. This achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting and speaks volumes about our Town’s management.
“The Town continues to implement the necessary policies and procedures in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis, prioritizing the safety of residents and employees. One shining example was our partnership with the State of New York and the private sector to set up a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination center for senior citizens at the Town’s Senior Center. On top of the pop-up center, the Town also created a 6-month vaccination center on Town Community Development Agency property for low-income residents.
“Many essential services continue to be available both online and in-person (without the need for an appointment since July 21, 2021). Due to the efficiency of the appointment system, the Town aims to maintain this convenience feature indefinitely.
“In order to help local restaurants rebound from all of the pandemic restrictions, the Town expanded the permitting of outdoor dining by allowing in-street outdoor dining “parklets.” While many of the COVID-19 restaurant restrictions were lifted by mid-summer of 2021, parklets will continue to be a vehicle of recovery for the 2021 year. These measures have proven to be quite successful and add more incentives for residents and visitors to patronize local businesses
“Infrastructure improvements to the Huntington waterfront include committing Environmental Open Space and Park Improvement Funds for recommended improvements at Halesite Marina Park in “Halesite and approving $1,500,000 for the replacement of the bulkhead at Woodbine Marina. The year 2021 has also witnessed the launch of the Huntington leg of the Suffolk County BikeShare program with PedalShare and Bethpage Federal Credit Union. This program links the Huntington waterfront, Huntington Village and the LIRR Huntington Train Station to promote sustainable transportation and a healthy lifestyle.
“Preserving Huntington’s local history is an ongoing endeavor, and is something in which the Town takes great pride. In 2021, the Town memorialized the contributions of notable Huntington women, including the Town’s first and only woman Town Supervisor, Toni Rettaliata-Tepe, with the renaming of Dix Hills Park, and the foremost woman architect of the early 20th century, suffragist Fay Kellogg, with an historical marker unveiling. Regarding the historical and local impacts of COVID-19, the Town designated the first Monday in March as “COVID-19 Victims and Survivors Memorial Day” and committed to building a permanent memorial to the victims and survivors of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Town invested in the preservation of Huntington’s black history by performing an archaeological dig at the Peter Crippen House and securing funding for a structural analysis of the home. Also related to black history, the Town has added the name of a Tuskegee Airman from Halesite to the Town’s WWII Memorial and declared Juneteenth an official Town holiday (prior to federal passage), and honoring notable African American residents Dr. Rev. Agnes “Mother” Hiller and “Greenlawn Pickle King” Samuel Ballton with street renaming ceremonies.
“In 2022, I plan to reduce expenditures by implementing a variety of cost saving strategies including, but not limited to the increased use of shared services. The Town will continue to focus on renewable energy and ways of implementing sustainable programming and technologies (e.g., more use of solar panels and electric car charging locations) at Town facilities. Commencing construction activities associated with the James D. Conte Community Center and the new animal shelter and modifying the “I” zone are also just a sampling of noteworthy 2022 goals.
“Streamlining government processes and finding innovative ways to take the burden off the taxpayer will remain a priority. The Town will work to maintain its strong financial standing and AAA-stable bond rating, and refinance outstanding bonds at lower rates to save taxpayer dollars. Also, our commitment to improving the quality of life and supporting beautification efforts town-wide, with special ongoing focus on the revitalization of Huntington Station will remain in full force.
“As always, my staff has been advised to make themselves available to you for review of the various expenditures and revenue figures contained herein. Further, I would be more than happy to meet with you to discuss any questions and input you may have. I look forward to working with you toward the successful adoption of the annual Operating and Capital Budgets for the Town of Huntington for 2022.
“Please stay safe and healthy.”
A public hearing on the Preliminary Budget for 2022 will be scheduled on or before November 4, as required by New York State Town Law, during which the public can weigh in on the merits of the budget.
In the spirit of transparency, Supervisor Lupinacci is continuing the tradition he started in 2018, the first year of his administration, including presentations to the Town Board and the public on budget estimates. The presentations will be live-streamed on the Town’s website at huntingtonny.gov/meetings and on government access TV channels Optimum 18 and FIOS 38.
The Preliminary Budget for 2022 must be adopted by November 20.
The Supervisor’s 2022 Tentative Operating and Capital Budget for the Town of Huntington can be found on the Town website on the page for the Department of Audit and Control: http://www.huntingtonny.gov/audit-control/