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Hempstead Village trustees considering two budgets, including one that could raise taxes up to 9 percent

Hempstead Village Hall is located at 99 Nichols

Hempstead Village Hall is located at 99 Nichols Ct. in Hempstead. Credit: Google Maps

Hempstead Village trustees will decide between two budgets for next year -- one with $3 million in cuts and an alternate with up to a 9 percent tax hike for residents.

The village board is expected to vote on either of the two budgets April 30, on the eve of when the fiscal plan must be filed with the state. Just before the vote, the board plans to hold a public hearing at which it will vote a second time on whether to pierce the state-regulated 1.68 percent tax cap.

A motion to raise taxes failed at last week's meeting, leaving the village with a $3 million deficit in next year's budget. Residents still face a 4.5 percent property tax increase, due to lower assessment and property values.

Trustees voted this week to revote on a higher-tax budget in order to avert cutting $3 million in village services and public safety. The new budget could include a higher tax rate, but could be less than the 9 percent previously proposed if combined with other department cuts.

Officials said the cuts would include $1.4 million in police and fire budgets, including eliminating six police officer positions the village had planned to hire.

The new budget would also cut about $200,000 in police overtime.

The village also faces four layoffs from public safety and one from another village department, Hempstead Treasurer Ray Calame said.

"We hope we can come up with a budget that ideally has no layoffs," Hempstead Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr. said. "I don't want to raise taxes, but the reality is, the police force is taking up a third of the budget and public safety is important in Hempstead."

The proposed budget included $2.8 million in police overtime, $800,000 in raises for police and CSEA employees, and $1.8 million in about 15 police retirements.

More officers are retiring this year due to a 7 percent penalty in their retirement payouts if they do not retire after 20 years on the force. The retirements are being offset with $1.35 million from the employee benefit and accrued liability reserve, so it will not affect taxes, Calame said.

Hall also allocated $500,000 to the budget from the $2 million tax stabilization fund. About $4 million remains in the general fund, which faces a $1.9 million loss.

Hall said the village is hurt by having a third of downtown property off the tax rolls -- which otherwise would have raised $39 million in revenue.

Every department will face cuts if higher taxes are not passed, Hall said. The new budget would eliminate all vacant positions and cut part-time hours by 20 percent. Library services and road repairs could also be cut, Hall said.

The village is also planning to eliminate its budgets for summer concerts and parades. Any parades would have to be independently funded to cover the expected $200,000 they cost the village each year in overtime and sanitation.

The April 30 budget meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Village Hall, 99 Nichols Rd.

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