Amityville trustees have approved an austere $15.2 million budget for the next fiscal year, with trustee Nick LaLota and Mayor Jim Wandell once more blaming the prior administration for leaving them with what Wandell called a "financial mess."
Previous budgets, Wandell wrote in a letter to residents released at Monday night's board meeting, had overestimated revenue and underestimated expenses -- echoing findings in a state comptroller's report in 2012.
LaLota hammered the same theme during the board meeting, cautioning residents not to expect too much too soon from a new administration with barely a month in office: "We inherited a problem. We're going to address it, and it's going to take time to address it."
The budget includes a 1.74 percent increase in the tax levy, well within the village's state tax cap figure of 1.97 percent.
The budget will raise the property tax rate by 3.88 percent, around $116 for the average house.
Damage from Sandy and demolition on the Brunswick Hospital property diminished the overall worth of taxable property within the village. Brunswick alone had provided $250,000 in tax revenue, money that will not be replaced until new development takes place on the property.
The budget does not touch a $700,000 deficit in the reserve fund and will spread a $480,000 pension obligation over 10 years at 3.5 percent interest, instead of paying the amount all at once. It sets aside just $25,000 for capital projects.
The lone dissent in the 4-1 budget vote came from newcomer Kevin Smith, who called for a bigger budget to combat the village's $10.6 million debt, build reserves and shore up infrastructure, even if it meant a tax hike of up to 6 percent.
Anything less, he suggested, was just postponing reckoning: "You think this is going to go away, but at this percent, it's not," he said.
The argument drew muttered criticism from residents at the meeting and no enthusiasm from Smith's colleagues.