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Westbury OKs $8.5M budget with slight increase in village taxes

Westbury Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro described the tax

Westbury Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro described the tax increase as not ideal but "fairly nominal." Credit: Howard Schnapp

Westbury homeowners will see their village tax bill increase an average of $38 compared to what they paid last year after officials voted unanimously last week to raise taxes by 3%.

Village officials voted 5-0 in an April 15 conference call to approve the $8.5 million budget for the fiscal year that will begin June 1, including no cuts in projected spending on services or personnel. The adopted budget raises overall spending by 2.8% over the current year’s nearly $8.3 million spending plan.

Mayor Peter Cavallaro described the tax increase as not ideal but “fairly nominal.”

For a typical home with an assessed value of $484,689, the homeowner will pay $1,086 for village services, officials said.

While uncertainties abound due to the coronavirus pandemic, village officials are expecting a decline of revenue in building permit fees, license fees and sales taxes.

“This budget basically is our best guesstimate on where we think we will be,” Cavallaro said in an interview this week. “We can’t project exactly how bad the revenue shortfalls might be, so we are basically using our experience to guess on those things.”

Westbury officials budgeted a decrease of $50,000 in parking fees and $65,000 in mortgage recording tax collection but still projected to collect $252,400 in license and permit fees, the same amount anticipated for the current fiscal year.

“We have not reduced those because we think that there’s a fair chance that we will be close,” the mayor said. “That’s where some variability comes in the budget.”

Anticipating development projects to be on pause, Cavallaro said the village didn’t budget in an expected increase in building department fees after Westbury passed zoning changes in December to redevelop a blighted industrial area near the Long Island Rail Road station.

To make up for anticipated revenue shortfalls, Westbury budgeted nearly $600,000 from its $3 million fund balance, or rainy-day fund, to cover potential losses.

“The budget maintains everything as-is,” Cavallaro said. “We still have to run our operations. We are not reducing services. ... We don’t want to have garbage picked up less frequently or less code enforcement.”

Officials cited a 94% jump, or an $80,000 increase, in rising recycling and yard waste disposal costs and a scheduled 1.5% salary increase for dozens of unionized workers and other employees as the main reasons for the increased spending projection.

Cavallaro said the tax hike stayed under the mandated state tax cap of 2% because the village factored in “unused cap” from the previous two years when Westbury raised taxes by 1% and 0%, respectively.

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