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Hempstead Town considers $419.4M budget

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray speaks at a

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray speaks at a press conference. (Sept. 22, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray Friday proposed a $419.4 million budget for 2013 that would reduce taxes by a few dollars for the average homeowner.

Murray's proposal -- to be presented to the town board Wednesday -- would lower the town tax bill by about $7, to about $828 annually, for the owner of an average home with assessed valuation of $870, said comptroller Kevin Conroy.

Murray released a statement that compared the town's financial picture with those of Suffolk County, Long Beach and Islip Town, which have battled financial turmoil in the past year.

"There are no shortcuts to responsible budgeting," Murray's statement said. "Taxpayers deserve straightforward, honest and accountable fiscal management from government leaders."

Taxpayers in Islip, which is considering a 65 percent tax increase, have "enjoyed years of no tax increases, and it has caught up with us," town spokeswoman Inez Birbiglia said. Representatives for Suffolk County and Long Beach did not return calls for comment.

Murray's proposal increases Hempstead's budget 1.1 percent, from $414.8 million. The tax levy would fall 0.5 percent to $262.2 million, which would keep the town below the state's 2 percent tax cap.

The town's workforce would remain at 1,996 employees, spokesman Mike Deery said.

The budget reduces the town's debt service for the fourth consecutive year, and debt service has fallen nearly 15 percent since 2010, Murray said.

The budget includes a $50 million capital spending plan. Its projects include a 16,000-square-foot recreation center in Lido Beach and downtown revitalization projects in Baldwin, Oceanside and Elmont.

The town board will vote on the budget proposal after two public hearings. They will be Oct. 16 at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 1 Washington St. in Hempstead.

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