The Hempstead Town board unanimously adopted a 2014 fiscal budget of $431.9 million after holding two public budget hearings Tuesday.
The board voted 7-0 to approve the budget, which is a 3 percent increase from this year's $419.4 million budget. But the tax levy would be reduced by about $1.2 million to $261 million.
Town officials have said they plan to use $31.2 million in reserves to help fund the 2014 budget, up from $29.1 million this year. The town began this year with about $120 million in reserves, town officials have said.
For the owner of a home valued at about $250,000, the town tax bill -- which makes up about 9 percent of the total property tax bill -- would be reduced by $2 to $843 for the year, officials have said.
The town expects revenue to grow from an expected $128.1 million in 2013 to an expected $139.7 million in 2014. Sale taxes are expected to grow to $40.5 million from $35.7 million, mortgage tax receipts to $17.8 million from $15.3 million, and refuse fees to $14.8 million from $13.2 million, officials have said.
Felix Procacci of Franklin Square, who is running against Kate Murray for town supervisor, complained during one hearing that the budget has increased during Murray's tenure. The property tax levy was $182.5 million in 2003 and increased to $264.5 million in 2012, an increase of nearly 45 percent, he said citing town audits. He said town bond debt increased to $317.35 million from $238.618 million in the same period.
Procacci questioned the $292,000 budget item for three graphic artists, and three engineering department helpers for a total of $234,000.
"What I am speaking to is the way you're budgeting," said Procacci, who has been attending town meetings for three years. "Are there real people behind the numbers?"
In response, Murray said: "Our numbers are vetted. We don't make up phantom employees."
Murray told Procacci his time was up, after speaking for about 25 minutes, beyond the three minutes normally allowed per speaker.
"They treat me differently because I give facts," Procacci said after the earlier hearing. "I just want to give the facts to the people."