The Glen Cove City Council has approved a $63.9 million 2021 budget that hikes the tax levy by 6.8% and eliminates eight city jobs.
Mayor Timothy Tenke faced pushback from members of the public and some council members who said the hike was too big at a time when the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has left many people struggling to pay their bills. Glen Cove spokeswoman Shannon Vulin said in an email that six employees were being laid off and two vacant positions would not be filled.
"I know that this is a very difficult time," Tenke said at the Tuesday night council meeting where members approved the budget. "If we could have avoided the layoffs we certainly would have."
The City Council passed the budget 4-2, with the mayor abstaining as required under the city charter. Tenke said busting the tax cap with a large increase was necessary because one-shots that had helped the city balance budgets in recent years were no longer available. Glen Cove also expects to lose $769,378 in state and county aid due to the pandemic, according to a city budget presentation.
"This is the step in the right direction for the city," Tenke said at the meeting, which was streamed live. "Hopefully we won’t ever have to do this again."
The adopted budget included $301,900 in cuts to various departments that weren’t part of Tenke’s original proposal. Those cuts helped reduce the tax levy increase that had been proposed at 7.9%.
Members of the public, calling into the meeting before the vote, asked the council to look for other sources of revenue, such as selling parking and beach passes to nonresidents.
Tenke, a Democrat, said past efforts to fix the city’s finances had been blocked by the previous Republican majority council. But even with an all Democratic council that swept the last election, the vote still faced criticism.
Councilwoman Marsha Silverman voted against the budget, criticizing what she said was the culmination of years of failing to do long-term planning that has put Glen Cove in a "precarious financial position."
"Jobs have been lost. Businesses have failed. Lives have been lost, all due to the pandemic," Silverman said. "Now is not the time to do business as usual, now is not the time to raise taxes by this amount."
Councilman Gaitley Stevenson-Mathews also voted against the budget stating, "I don’t think we are where we should be with this budget."