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Proposed 2019 Oyster Bay budget won't raise tax levy or affect town's workforce

The proposed 2019 Oyster Bay budget, which totals $299.8 million, does not include a tax levy increase or changes in the town’s workforce.

“This proposed budget reflects our success and utilizes fiscally conservative budgeting practices,” Supervisor Joseph Saladino said at a hearing on the budget Tuesday morning.

The size of the town workforce — which averaged 997 during 2018 — is not expected to change in 2019, town spokesman Brian Nevin said in an email.

But Town Clerk James Altadonna Jr. called on the board to provide raises for town workers, noting that in years past they had agreed to deferred wage payments.

Saladino said the highest priority was to get the town’s debt under control and to reduce the deficit.

In January the Oyster Bay Town Board approved raises for 87 employees totaling $734,449.

For two years the town has largely followed a financial recovery plan set into motion in 2016, when the town board passed an 11.5 percent increase in the property tax levy, increasing annual revenues by $24.1 million. Former Supervisor John Venditto had also proposed a multiyear debt reduction plan to cap new capital borrowing at 75 percent of the amount of debt being retired annually.

The town plans to borrow $50 million for new capital projects in 2019 and retire $65 million in long-term debt, town finance director Robert Darienzo told the board. That would mean the town’s new borrowing would be 76.9 percent of what it plans to retire in 2019.

The town expects to spend $20 million on road repairs next year, town officials said.

The budget does not include rental payments for the town’s facilities at 150 Miller Place in Syosset. The town sold the land to a private developer in 2013, but the sale has not closed.

Under an agreement, the town can stay on the property for an additional three years but must make paymentsto the developer. Darienzo said the town may use some of the additional $2.5 million owed to it under the sale for the rental payments, which cost about $900,000 a year, according to the 2017 certified annual financial report.

The town’s planning and development department has seen an increase in revenue from building and alteration permits, town officials said.

In 2017 the department’s permit revenue increased to $9.5 million from $7.6 million the previous year. The increase was due in part to a streamlined permitting process implemented last year and to the 750-unit Country Pointe development that is under construction in Plainview, planning and development commissioner Elizabeth Maccarone told the board.

The budget for the town attorney’s office would increase to $4.5 million from the $3.6 million budgeted this year. Town Attorney Joseph Nocella said the increase is due to the expectation that legal cases that had been stayed would resume.

The town has faced investigations and lawsuits related to former concessionaire Harendra Singh. Those cases were stayed while the criminal trials of Venditto and former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and his wife, Linda, were underway earlier this year.

Venditto was acquitted. The Manganos will be retried, after their first trial ended in a mistrial.

The town board plans to vote on the budget on Oct. 30.

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