Amityville Village Mayor James Wandell painted a bleak picture of municipal finances in a brief State of the Village address this week.
Speaking from notes at the end of a Monday night board of trustees meeting where the retirements of the village's top two police officials were announced, Wandell warned that the village will pay more than $1 million to retiring employees this year, along with tax grievance payments to residents that could exceed $300,000.
The total village budget this year is $15.4 million.Data2013 payroll
"We have tried just about everything, and every time we more forward we get knocked back," Wandell said.
More than half of village spending this year is going to police, according to budget figures, and Wandell appealed to the union representing police officers for help in reducing costs, warning that "without it, the outlook is grim."
He did not specify the kind of help he and fellow trustees are looking for, but they have over the past year made repeated requests to the PBA to agree to cut compensation for rank-and-file officers by reopening the police contract.
The frosty relationship between the two sides deteriorated further when a divided village board moved to cut night differential pay for officers earlier this month. The matter could end in arbitration later this summer.
In a statement, the PBA said it had already made substantial concessions to the village and that retirements would lead to greater saving. "As new officers are hired, the village will continue to see reduced costs without compromising public safety," the statement said.
Wandell praised trustee Nick LaLota, a close ally who prepares the village budget and has been the administration's most dominant voice on police pay, crediting him with "pulling rabbits out of his hat."
Financial victories for the administration this year include savings on insurance and debt service, Wandell said, and three straight budgets under the state tax cap will bring residents a credit that effectively freezes the property tax increase for the year. The administration also found one-time revenue items like a settlement with Suffolk County over parkland.
One volunteer committee is moving closer to developing a master plan for the village's downtown business district; another has been formed to make recommendations about green technology.
Credit ratings agencies have improved their outlook on the village, Wandell noted. However, a report by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in February called Amityville the most fiscally "stressed" village in the state, Wandell acknowledged.
According to that report, which covered fiscal year 2014, the village's condition actually deteriorated from the previous year.
Wandell warned: "We're running out of rabbits."