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Hempstead Town supervisor to announce $5M budget surplus

Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino, seen on Thursday,

Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino, seen on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino on Tuesday is to announce a $5 million budget surplus that officials are touting as a “turnaround” from what had been a $23.5 million deficit.

The deficit improvement follows an upgrade to a “positive” financial outlook by Standard & Poor’s credit rating agency in March. Moody’s Investors Service in February downgraded the town’s bond rating for a third straight review but upgraded its financial outlook.

Santino took office as supervisor in 2016, when the town’s $436.4 million budget included using $23.5 million in reserve funds to cover operational expenses, officials said.

Additionally, Santino is to announce that the town’s revenues last year were $12.4 million higher than expected, officials said.

Town officials said the improvement was due to cost-saving efforts including buying used trucks for the town instead of new ones, coating roads with cheaper beet-juice brine before snowstorms instead of using salt, installing high-efficiency LED streetlights, posting legal notices online instead of in print, and hiring part-time snow plow operators to avoid paying overtime for full-time crews.

Santino also cut costs in labor and discretionary spending, officials said. He decreased the full-time workforce by almost 7 percent and part-time employees by 24 percent.

In December, Santino’s office asked department heads to submit a list of full-time employees for possible layoffs. But town officials said no layoffs were planned.

In a separate move in February, town officials notified 55 mechanics that their jobs were being eliminated, but they would be allowed to switch departments instead of losing their employment with the town.

In its report, Standard & Poor’s said the town’s financial outlook could be upgraded again if officials continued to have a balanced budget and increased and maintained the reserves.

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