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2016 North Hempstead budget passes, includes bump in snow removal funds

North Hempstead Town Hall is seen in this

North Hempstead Town Hall is seen in this undated photo. Photo Credit: Town of North Hempstead

The Town of North Hempstead's board has unanimously approved its 2016 budget, which stays under the state-mandated tax cap and boosts funding for snow removal.

The $102 million budget consists of a $66.9 million general fund and a $35.05 million town-outside-village fund, which covers projects such as road maintenance and snow plowing. It falls within the state's 0.73 percent tax cap and was approved on 7-0 vote.

"We have a deep obligation to our residents to provide the services they expect and deserve, while being fiscally responsible, and I believe that this 2016 budget fulfills those responsibilities," Supervisor Judi Bosworth said at Thursday's board meeting.

The town board also unanimously passed a $17.8 million budget for the town's solid waste management authority, which handles garbage disposal and recycling. It also allocated $23.66 million for its 20 town-operated special districts, which provide services such as water and lighting.

The general fund calls for $24.92 million to be raised by taxation, while the town-outside-village fund requires $27.01 million to be raised.

The tax levy for both the general fund and the town-outside-village fund will rise by 0.73 percent. Taxes on the average household in incorporated villages will increase by $3.78. Taxes on the average household in unincorporated villages will also pay the town-outside-village-tax of $10.83.

Most taxpayers will qualify for a rebate on their 2015 state taxes, Bosworth added.

The budget includes increased allocations for snow removal, tree trimming and planting. The snow removal budget is $1.02 million, nearly $300,000 more than last year. The $350,000 highway department landscaping budget has more than doubled from last year's $140,000 allocation.

Before the vote, Deputy Supervisor Aline Khatchadourian fielded questions from the board about the budget, and discussion centered on road paving and hiring practices.

In August, the town implemented a purchasing freeze that also includes a halt on hiring except for essential positions. There are several vacancies, including two each in the highway and building departments, Khatchadourian said. Vacancies resulting from retirements won't be filled immediately but will be evaluated for necessity, she added.

"Is it a perfect budget, no," Councilman Angelo Ferrara said. "If you ask every commissioner here and everyone on the board, there's something they'd like to see differently.

"But I think if you look overall at the direction it takes us as a town in preserving the quality of life that we have for our residents . . . I really applaud you all for making that happen," he said.

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