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Freeport Village approves budget that will not raise taxes

Mayor Robert Kennedy says Freeport's newest budget will

Mayor Robert Kennedy says Freeport's newest budget will be the fifth in a row that does not raise taxes. Kennedy is seen here on Sept. 21, 2017. Credit: Johnny Milano

Freeport Village recently passed its 2018-2019 budget, the fifth consecutive budget that does not increase taxes, Mayor Robert Kennedy said.

The $72,776,978 budget, which runs from March 1, 2018, to Feb. 28, 2019, was passed on Jan. 19.

The tentative budget included a tax increase of 1.598 percent.

“You go through every line in the budget,” Kennedy said. “We brought it down to zero percent.”

He said the village’s police department and public works department received the biggest cuts between the tentative and adopted budgets.

Members of the planning and zoning boards and the housing authority received raises higher than other village employees — most of their salaries are set by contracts — because there has been an uptick in their workload, Kennedy said.

The board also increased homeowners’ fees for trash pickup by $25 to cover a hike from the sanitation company the village contracts with, he said.

The mayor said previous budgets have called for tax increases as high as 16 percent.

“That doesn’t mean we have to do it now,” he said.

Kennedy touted his administration’s work to build the village’s reserves up from $1.4 million to $10.5 million, as well as a reduction in Freeport’s debt by $35 million — both over the past four years despite increased obligations and unfunded mandates.

Kennedy said increases in state aid would help the village make needed infrastructure repairs to water mains, sidewalks and curbs without potentially having to raise taxes in the future. Unrestricted state aid known as “Aid and Incentives for Municipalities,” or AIM, has been kept flat for the past six years, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has not proposed changing that in the coming 2018-2019 state budget.

“If we had an increase in AIM funding, we wouldn’t have to do a lot of these cutbacks,” Kennedy said.

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