Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino proposed a $299.8 million 2019 operating budget on Tuesday that would keep the property tax levy flat. The proposal is $776,952 greater than the budget approved last year though the 2018 budget has subsequently increased to $301.1 million due to amendments.
“We will not be increasing taxes in this budget,” Saladino said at the town board meeting. “The budget is a flat budget.”
The proposal would keep salaries at roughly current levels, $83.3 million compared with $83.4 million in the amended 2018 budget. The biggest changes would come from a 10.5 percent increase in contractural spending, to $63.9 million from $57.8 million, and a 12 percent decrease in debt service payments, to $86.2 million from $98.1 million, according to a summary in the budget proposal.
“We have underestimated our revenues and we have overestimated our expenditures to have a budget that is very fiscally responsible and very conservative in our approach,” Saladino said.
The town has scheduled budget hearings for 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Oct. 16. The final budget must be adopted by Nov. 20.
The property tax levy would remain flat at $233 million through a mix of increases and decreases in individual tax lines.
The town last passed a budget that cut the tax levy by 0.5 percent, or $1.3 million. That followed an 11.5 percent tax hike that took effect in 2017 that raised $24 million in annual revenue and was cited by Standard & Poor’s as a key factor in stabilizing and improving town finances. The move led to an S&P rating upgrade to investment-grade status in March from junk status after years of fiscal deterioration.
The proposal would increase spending on the office of the inspector general to $232,000 from $172,000. The position — which is to oversee the town’s contracting — has never been filled and the town has not spent the funds allocated to it this year. Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia for much of the year has refused to vote on contracts because that position has been vacant.
The town has returned to its former practice of including a capital budget. That plan calls for $34.6 million in capital spending, including $19.1 million for roadwork. Town spokesman Brian Nevin said in an email the proposed capital spending is “not technically part of the budget” because borrowing money to pay for capital spending requires the board to approve separate bond resolutions.