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Saladino's tentative $311M budget boosts Oyster Bay spending, salaries by millions

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino's tentative 2021

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino's tentative 2021 budget proposes $311.6 million in spending compared to $306.5 million in the adopted 2020 budget.  Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino has proposed a 2021 budget that would increase spending while keeping the tax levy flat.

The budget proposes $311.6 million in spending compared to $306.5 million in the adopted 2020 budget.

"From returning fiscal stability and restoring trust to delivering the highest level of services while protecting your quality of life, the Town Board and I have moved Oyster Bay forward from its darkest days to its brightest," Saladino said in a news release. "This proposed budget continues to restrict new spending while freezing property taxes and making smart investments in our roadways."

The proposal, released last week, would increase spending on salaries by $4.5 million to $91.9 million, the highest level since 2016. Faced with financial problems, former Supervisor John Venditto and the town board slashed spending on salaries in the 2017 budget to $77 million from $94.5 million the previous year. Spending on salaries increased in the town’s adopted budgets in 2018 and 2020.

The actual cost of salaries in 2021 could increase due to a retirement incentive program adopted in August that has a Jan. 31 deadline. Town spokesman Brian Nevin said proposed spending on salaries does not include spending on the retirement incentive.

It is unclear what roadwork is intended in 2021 because the proposed budget provided to Newsday did not include a capital program.

The town’s proposed overall tax levy of $232.9 million consists of more than two dozen individual levies and does not include levies for special districts with semi-autonomous governance structures, such as certain water and fire districts.

Of these levies, only the general fund levy applies to all property owners. The general fund levy would decrease to $55.6 million from $61.8 million in the current year. This levy has fluctuated every year since 2016, when it was $40.7 million.

The highway levy would be cut to $48.6 million from $54.2 million under the proposed budget, while the levies that fund garbage collection would increase by $6.4 million to $65.1 million.

The biggest proposed levy increase by percentage is for drainage district funding, increasing by 311 percent, to $1.7 million from $556,659.

Although town officials said in 2018 that a 400 percent increase in fees for public parking permits would allow the town to cut taxes in its parking district by shifting the burden onto users of parking facilities, the levy for the public parking district would increase by $2.4 million to $9.9 million under the budget proposal.

Public hearings on the budget are scheduled for Oct. 20.

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