Shelter Island Town Council approves $7M budget
The Shelter Island Town Council, saying it had cut all it could and still needed to break the state cap, has unanimously approved a $7,286,386 budget for 2014 that is 5.02 percent higher than the current spending plan.
Before the Friday night vote, the five-member council unanimously approved a resolution giving them the authority to exceed the cap.
Councilman Peter S. Reich said the council decided not to put off needed road maintenance and other expenses just to keep the tax rate down, because the costs would only build up each year. "We did not do what the other towns have done. We bit the bullet on infrastructure," he said.
As Suffolk's smallest town, Shelter Island has very little commercial property to generate tax revenue, which means that homeowners pay most of the tax bill. The amount homeowners will have to pay is still being determined.
Reich -- who had been ill for much of the budget review process -- said he admired the work of his fellow council members in crafting the budget. "It was a tough one," he said.
The spending levels sought by the various town departments would have resulted in a budget of about $10 million, which the board substantially reduced.
But the choices became difficult when the desire to reduce spending clashed with demands for popular programs such as a desire to put out more than 60 four-posters -- a mechanical device used to kill ticks on deer -- which could cover all of Shelter Island.
The four-posters work by attracting deer with corn, and the pesticide is applied from rollers the deer brush when they eat. But it costs several thousand dollars a year to buy the corn and maintain the machines.
The town owns enough four-posters to treat its deer -- the acreage each machine can cover depends on a variety of things, from how dense the woods are to whether deer are attracted to a specific area -- but has only been able to deploy about 20 a year because of the cost.