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Saladino proposes $306.5M Oyster Bay budget that boosts salaries, keeps tax levy flat 

Oyster Bay supervisor Joseph Saladino at the town's

Oyster Bay supervisor Joseph Saladino at the town's public meeting, Tuesday morning, Jan. 8, 2019. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino has proposed a $306.5 million budget for 2020, with pay to employees increasing by about $4 million to $87.4 million.

The proposed budget keeps the tax levy flat at $232.9 million, compared to $233 million in the current year. 

The board voted 4-0 at its Tuesday meeting to adopt Saladino’s tentative budget. The final budget must be adopted by Nov. 20. Councilman Anthony Macagnone abstained from the vote because he said he hadn’t reviewed the spending plan and that it wasn’t sent to the board. 

“This tax relief is possible due to spending constraints, due to efficiencies and debt reduction initiatives,” Saladino said at the meeting.

While the tax levy would remain flat, individual levies would go up and down. The levies for highway, parks, solid waste and public parking would rise, while five other levies — including the general fund and sanitation district — would drop.

In 2018, the town hiked parking fees at commuter lots by 400 percent. At the time, finance director Robert Darienzo said that the town was shifting the cost of maintaining the lots from taxpayers to users and that the increase would result in a corresponding tax cut for the parking levy. The fee hike generated more than $1 million in additional revenue last year, but the public parking levy has not been cut. Rather, it was increased in 2019 and would rise again in the proposed 2020 budget. The parking levy would increase next year by $258,277, to $7.5 million.

Darienzo said the levy needed to be raised because of expenses related to the 2018 renovation of the parking garage at the Hicksville Long Island Rail Road station.

The town’s spending on legal fees would continue to rise, to $2.6 million from $2.5 million in the current year as the town continues to defend and pursue various lawsuits.

“At the end of the day, it’s not really a sexy budget with a lot of bells and whistles,” Darienzo said. “We’re holding the line on taxes, maintaining the tax cut that was put into place in 2018 and continuing along the path of building the town’s reserves while providing the same services we always have.”

The town has mostly maintained a large tax increase that took effect in 2017 and has raised more than $20 million in revenue annually compared to previous years. The levy was cut by $1.3 million in 2018, remained at that level this year and would continue to do so in 2020 under the proposed spending plan. Standard & Poor’s cited the recurring revenue from the tax hike as one of the main reasons it upgraded the town’s credit rating last year.

The town’s capital plan calls for $20 million for highway projects, a slight increase over the $19.1 million in the 2019 capital plan, and allocates all the money for general reconstruction.

The town has scheduled budget hearings for Oct. 22.

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