The Huntington Town Board's discussion of its proposed $188.7 million operating and $15 million capital budgets for 2016 was dominated by a planned 8 percent cut to the Huntington Community First Aid Squad budget.
Town officials proposed the decrease of $194,901 after discovering the squad has a $2.3 million surplus.
After a public hearing Tuesday night, Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said he has asked the state comptroller to review the department's books. "There is a concern because there is an extensive amount of surplus in cash," he said.See also2013 Huntington payrollsPhotosHuntington officials11 historical photos of Huntington
Petrone said town officials discovered the surplus this year when looking at the squad's filings with the Internal Revenue Service. He said filings were reviewed after questions from the town to the squad were not satisfactorily answered.
Squad officials testified during the public hearing that the surplus is money raised since the squad was founded in 1967 from events such as craft sales -- community contributions to be used at the discretion of the all-volunteer service.
Alyssa Axelrod, squad vice president, said that the squad has grown its pool of donations through investments.
"We want the town to understand when they speak of our $2.3 million . . . they speak of community donations," Axelrod said. "That's separate from taxpayer dollars."
Petrone said there are still guidelines for nonprofits. "The state requires that extensive surpluses in cash from any money from within any nonprofit is not to be accumulated to a great extent," he said.
The board is expected to vote on the budgets on Nov. 5.
Property taxes account for $114.5 million of 2016's budget. Another $41.1 million is expected through fees and fines; state aid is anticipated at $11.8 million; and there are various other revenue streams.
The biggest spending category for the operating budget would be $64.7 million for contracts, material and supplies, $59.3 million for salaries and $42.1 million toward employee benefits and taxes.
The proposed capital budget is $15 million. Some expected capital projects include rehabilitation of various plants and pump stations in the Dix Hills Water District, road rehabilitation, drainage infrastructure and paving projects.