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Hempstead Village budget includes funds to study armory's future

The new budget, which raises taxes less than 1 percent, will pay for an engineering study of the armory that a trustee said is underused.

The Hempstead Village Board members: Trustee Jeffery Daniels,

The Hempstead Village Board members: Trustee Jeffery Daniels, left, Deputy Mayor Charles Renfroe, Mayor Don Ryan, and trustees Waylyn Hobbs Jr. and LaMont Johnson. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Hempstead Village Board in a split vote on Tuesday approved a 0.78 percent tax increase for the upcoming fiscal year and appointed a new village treasurer.

The board voted 3-2 to adopt the $105,498,500 budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, which begins June 1. Mayor Don Ryan and Deputy Mayor Charles Renfroe voted against the budget because of an amendment added by trustee Jeffery Daniels directing $687,000 toward village development studies, including a proposed engineering study of the village armory.

For the average taxpayer, the rate increase will mean an additional $46.65 owed to the village annually. A $578,000 drop in village property values from last year required the tax hike, according to the budget.

Daniels said he would like to see the reallocated $687,000 used in part for an engineering study of the village armory on Washington Street, which he said is underused and could host more village operations.

"Right now, the armory is large enough to house the police department and Village Hall, but it's currently only housing about 12 police officers," he said.

Daniels' budget amendment moves the $687,000 from what he said were overbudgeted police salaries and projected revenue from a proposed mortgage foreclosure registry.

New police officers slated to work for the village won't begin until later in the year, he said, leaving more money allocated for police salaries than necessary.

The police department's $25,792,700 in projected expenses next year make up around a quarter of the village's entire budget.

The new spending plan is $351,900 greater than the prior year's. But the $83,924,500 budget for the general fund — which finances most village operations — represents a $1,118,400 increase over last year.

Deputy Village Treasurer Grace Lawrence attributed the increase primarily to contractually mandated raises for unionized employees who are members of either the Civil Service Employees Association or the Police Benevolent Association.

The increase in the general fund is projected to be offset by a $735,900 decrease in spending on the water fund, according to the budget.

The board also voted 5-0 to appoint Joseph M. Gill as the village treasurer. He will be paid $152,000 annually and begin work May 6, according to the resolution authorizing his appointment.

Gill, of Glen Cove, is the Great Neck village treasurer and previously served as Glen Cove city controller, Ryan said through a spokesman. He will leave the job in Great Neck for the new post in Hempstead, Ryan said. The village interviewed six other candidates for the position, Ryan said.

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