Hempstead Town officials say they will freeze taxes in the preliminary $436 million budget that will levy $269.6 million in property taxes.
The town board voted to pass the tentative budget Thursday, and it is scheduled to vote on a formal preliminary draft at Wednesday's budget hearing. The budget includes $16 million in mortgage recording receipts, $3.9 million state per capita aid and $19.4 million refuse disposal income.
Town officials said this year will be a straight tax freeze, unlike last year when taxes were raised 3.3 percent and refunded with a state tax rebate.
The budget calls for a 1 percent increase in spending, after spending was reduced $100,000 the previous year. It borrows $18.3 million in reserves and leaves a remaining $31 million in the town's reserves, town Comptroller Kevin Conroy said.
Standard & Poor's credit rating agency reduced the town's bond rating three levels in March, from AA+ to A+, citing excessive borrowing from town reserves. The town board had approved borrowing $24.9 million from reserves for the 2015 budget.
Conroy said the town is using reserves to meet an eighth of this year's budget, and the town has reduced spending reserves over recent years. He said the town is receiving less mortgage recording taxes and sales tax, which has diminished its ability to replenish reserves used for the general fund balance.
Last year's budget was also amended with a $30 million bond to cover $22 million paid to Nassau County in a settlement that forced the town to contribute to a tuition reimbursement to the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Conroy said the town plans to pass an additional $17 million 12-year bond for tuition payments, not included in the tentative 2016 budget.
Board members didn't allow questions or comments on the tentative budget at the meeting, deferring discussion to next week's budget hearing, which upset Felix Procacci of Franklin Square. He said officials were "guilty" of lacking guts and courage, for failing to address questions.
Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said in her budget statement that she was inspired to pass the budget by fallen 9/11 FDNY firefighter Gerry Walsh, who died of illnesses related to Ground Zero.
"Motivated by his indefatigable spirit and fully embracing his dedication to public service, I am proud to present a 2016 budget that serves our residents well," Murray said.