$15.2M Amityville budget up for vote avoids cuts

Amityville trustee Nicholas LaLota is pictured. Amityville trustee Nicholas LaLota is pictured. Photo Credit: Handout

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Amityville trustee Nick LaLota has presented the basics of a $15.2 million budget proposal for the coming fiscal year that would avoid service cuts while imposing a 3.45 percent tax-levy increase.

The work session, held Wednesday in advance of a board budget vote scheduled for Monday night, came as trustees faced conflicting pressures from taxpayers who wanted low or no tax increases and credit-ratings agencies that pushed the village to increase revenues and reserve funds.

While the proposal abides by the state-imposed tax-levy cap, it is unlikely to leave many from either side beaming.

Reserve funds are still expected to be at a deficit of about $700,000, though village officials say they are owed that much or more and have made strides in negotiating payment from Suffolk County and Gary Passavia, developer of the troubled Wellington Park Villas condominium project.

Assessed value of property in the village, which crept up between 2009 and 2011 and is one of the key numbers that ratings agencies track, has dropped for a second-straight year, to $36.9 million. The 2 percent drop reflects superstorm Sandy damage and the loss of Brunswick Hospital property, demolished but not yet redeveloped.

Premiums for liability insurance, workers' compensation and health insurance for village employees are all expected to rise after claims were made for storm-damaged village buildings and equipment and injuries to Highway Department employees and police officers, officials said.

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Village officials plan to borrow to fund a $300,000 pension obligation, paying the sum out over a decade with 3.5 percent interest.

Details could change before Monday's board meeting, LaLota said, and the budget will be re-evaluated periodically in the next year as trustees try to wring more savings.

Ideas floated Wednesday night included cutting a school crossing guard position funded by the village and increasing parking fees.

Trustees made almost no mention of the budget proposals presented earlier this year by former Mayor Peter Imbert. One version had called for a 1.97 percent tax levy increase; the other called for an 8.84 percent increase.

But LaLota frequently mentioned problems inherited from "the previous administration," and in a brief interview Thursday likened taking office to boarding a ship "that was taking on water."

The holes, he asserted, are plugged. "Now we need to start bailing out."

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