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Oyster Bay adopts preliminary budget with no tax increase

Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto sits

Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto sits during a town meeting on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 in Oyster Bay. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Town of Oyster Bay's preliminary budget includes no tax increase, after two years of tax hikes.

The town board unanimously adopted the $289,636,081 preliminary budget last week and scheduled public hearings on the spending plan for 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Oct. 13 at Town Hall East.

In response to a question from an audience member, Supervisor John Venditto said the final version of the budget will be unveiled before Election Day, Nov. 3.

The $40,760,180 levy for the general fund is virtually unchanged from 2015.

Last year, the board approved a preliminary budget that included no tax hike, but weeks later passed an 8.8 percent increase in the property tax levy.

There are no plans for a tax hike for 2016, said Robert Darienzo, the town's director of finance.

"Our preliminary budget shows a 0.00 percent tax increase, and we have no intention of changing that," he said.

Although the overall tax levy won't increase, some residents will see their tax bills rise because some park districts and other local entities within town government increased their levies, he said. Other residents will pay less tax because of decreases in local levies, he said.

Union employees in the town -- who make up about 90 percent of the town's workforce -- will receive 3 percent pay raises in 2016, but the total amount the town spends on salaries will go up only a fraction of a percent. Darienzo said that's because 45 vacant positions will not be filled in 2016. There will be no layoffs, he said.

The town is increasing its debt-service spending in 2016 from $71,738,224 to $80,745,046 to more aggressively pay off its debt, Darienzo said. The town's debt rose from about $600 million in 2010 to about $770 million in 2015, but is expected to decline in 2016, he said.

For the past few years, Oyster Bay has borrowed $30 million in short-term notes each May to address potential cash-flow problems in June and July, before the town receives tax payments in August, Darienzo said.

The same approach will be used again, because some vendors are slow in paying the town, which wants to pay its own bills on time, he said. The notes are paid off in 10 months, he said.

With Ted Phillips

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