Amityville approves budget with 1.74% tax hike

Amityville Village Hall Amityville Village Hall Photo Credit: Alexi Knock

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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.

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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.

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The argument drew muttered criticism from residents at the meeting and no enthusiasm from Smith's colleagues.

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