North Hempstead has passed a $126.2 million budget, which remains under the state tax cap and lowers taxes for residents.
The budget includes $67.3 million for the general fund, $35.2 million for the town outside village fund, and $24 million for the 20 town-operated special districts. It marks a 0.2 percent increase from the $126 million budget adopted last year.
The budget passed by a vote of 6-1 Tuesday night, with council member Dina De Giorgio the sole no vote. De Giorgio called the budget a “status quo” deal that did not give taxpayers any more services than the previous year.
The town also approved $17.8 million for the Solid Waste Management Agency.
Until Tuesday, the town did not release information about taxes on the average household, citing about $2.8 million in LIPA PILOTs, or payments in lieu of taxes, impacting the tax base. Town officials said because of a Nassau County error, some LIPA properties were erroneously kept on the tax rolls in 2016, causing homeowners to pay excess taxes. This miscalculation results in a onetime tax reduction for residents.
The average household in an incorporated village will see taxes decrease by $5.38. Homeowners in unincorporated areas will see taxes fall by $47.17.
Town officials confirmed that without the LIPA adjustments, the budget would have included tax hikes for residents.
With the LIPA revenue, the tax levy for the general fund is decreasing by 3 percent. The tax levy for the outside village fund is decreasing by 8.7 percent.
There are several planned shifts in the town’s departments. The finance department also will now handle purchasing, a step that includes six new positions and the doubling of the budget from $205,000 in 2016 to $439,115 in 2017. The net head count remains the same, because of departmental transfers, said Deputy Supervisor Aline Khatchadourian.
The Security Division, which employs 11 people, will fold into the Parks and Recreation Department, a move for which $865,637 is budgeted. The Parks and Recreation budget will grow from $15.84 million in 2016 to $16.64 million in 2017.
The number of town employees will rise from 432 to 436, and the total payroll will increase by 0.7 percent from $30.3 million to $30.5 million. This amount does not factor in seasonal or part-time positions.
Union members, who make up the bulk of the town’s staff, will receive 1.25 percent step raises, and about $300,000 is budgeted for raises.
Town officials said roughly $69,000 is budgeted for nonunion employees, though the nonunion payroll rises 15 percent, from $5 million in 2016 to $5.8 million in 2017. De Giorgio said the “significant increase” was one reason why she voted against the budget. Town finance director Jessica Lamendola said that the uptick was due to a shifting of employee status from union to exempt, and fluctuating salaries for new hires.
Six of the commissioner-operated special districts did not submit their budgets in time and will be voted on Nov. 15.