Massapequa Park wants to raise property taxes 3 percent next year to cover lower tax revenue and higher benefits cost, officials said at a public hearing Monday night.

Village revenue is expected to decrease slightly, from $5.64 million in 2010-2011 to $5.55 million in 2011-2012. To account for a similarly small bump in spending ($6.08 million to $6.17 million) officials have set aside $575,282 in surplus cash to balance the budget.

Last year, Massapequa Park did not use the $450,000 from surplus that it anticipated, and instead increased the fund by a small amount.

"We feel we spent our money wisely where it needed to be spent," said Mayor James Altadonna Jr. "This is bare bones."

He cited road maintenance and street-lighting replacements as the kind of work that can't be ignored, even in tough times.

"You can't just maintain," he said, "because that's when things deteriorate."

Between medical-insurance costs and state retirement contributions, the village is spending an additional $259,000 next year. But Altadonna said that was an expected reality, adding that he "would not vilify the public employee."

None of the village's roughly 40 employees would lose their jobs, he noted.

The property-tax rate will increase 3 percent, from 9.37 percent to 9.65 percent, representing $19.68 more for the average assessed home.

That increase, officials said, would bring an additional $106,373 to the tax rolls.

Few residents came to the public hearing Monday on the budget. John O'Brien, a former trustee who challenged the mayor in a write-in campaign last month, acknowledged that the tax hike "is not bad."

But he asked why the village couldn't raise a similar amount of revenue by increasing building-permit and parking fees.

"The people who are using us," O'Brien said, "let them pay for it."

Altadonna replied that some fees have already been raised, and that the village couldn't pick and choose the kinds of projects it would target for increases.

Massapequa Park, the largest incorporated village within Oyster Bay, will adopt the budget at a later meeting.

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