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Glen Cove adopts budget; tax levy to rise by 2.88%

Glen Cove adopted its budget incorporating just one recommendation made by a scathing report from the state comptroller's office on the city's finances.

The City Council voted 6-0 Tuesday to approve a $28.5-million budget, which increases the city tax levy by 2.88 percent. A home valued at the city average of $451,000 will see a $54 tax increase, officials said.

Earlier this month, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's office panned a preliminary version of the budget for not addressing a long-standing deficit and using what it said were unreliable revenue estimates. In a letter to city officials, Deputy Comptroller Steven Hancox questioned whether the city had "a long-term financial plan."

Because the city relies on deficit-financing bonds, it must submit a copy of its budget in advance to the state comptroller. But Glen Cove can reject any of the comptroller's recommendations.

In a letter replying to Hancox, Glen Cove Mayor Ralph Suozzi said he would accept a recommendation to transfer the city's sewer fund deficit, estimated at $2 million, into the general fund.

The sewer fund no longer makes money because the city turned over its sewers to Nassau County two years ago. Earlier, Suozzi said he wanted to keep the sewer fund deficit as a line in the budget to "show where it came from."

The move will not increase the city's overall annual deficit, which is about $5 million, City Controller Sal Lombardi said. "It's just a matter of reclassifying things," he said.

But Suozzi said the city would continue to issue bonds to pay for tax certiorari judgments - assessment refunds to homeowners - which are projected to cost $640,000 in this year's budget.

He also defended estimates for revenue from city property sales and building fees, saying city departments were in contact with a potential buyer and developers who planned to act during the next fiscal year.

"The City of Glen Cove understands its responsibility to develop a reasonable and achievable budget," Suozzi said.

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