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Oyster Bay’s $299M budget boosts spending, lowers tax levy

Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino's proposed $298.9 million

Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino's proposed $298.9 million 2018 budget calls for increased spending, a lower property tax levy and eliminating the town's public safety department. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino’s first budget proposal would eliminate the town’s public safety department and lower the property tax levy by 0.5 percent in 2018.

Saladino announced the $298.9 million budget proposal at Tuesday’s board meeting. The proposal is $9.4 million higher than the current year budget and includes $81.9 million for salaries and $98.2 million for debt service.

The town has scheduled morning and evening hearings for the budget on Oct. 17. The final budget must be adopted by Nov. 20.

The property tax levy would decrease to $233 million from $234 million. That amount doesn’t include special districts whose tax levies aren’t included in tax cap calculations. The proposed levy decrease follows an 11.5 percent hike in 2017 and no increase in 2016.

“Our finances are now headed in the right direction thanks to greater efficiencies, cost savings initiatives and innovative programs designed to better serve residents and save taxpayer money,” Saladino said Tuesday.

The town’s finances deteriorated sharply over the past decade. Standard & Poor’s downgraded Oyster Bay’s credit rating to junk status in 2016, citing years of poor financial management under former Supervisor John Venditto.

Saladino’s proposal would eliminate the public safety department by transferring almost two dozen public safety officers to Nassau County. The town’s Bay Constables would become part of the town parks department. The department had 57 full-time employees in 2016, town records show.

Spokesman Brian Nevin said in an email that the administration would “serve as liaison to the county department of public safety and assist in the rollout and monitoring of additional security cameras at town parks.”

The department was budgeted at $3.2 million in the current year. The proposal is expected to save the town $2 million, according to a news release.

Charles Ribando, Nassau County’s deputy executive for public safety, said in a statement that the county was reviewing the proposal, which could be eligible for a state program for service consolidation.

“Any proposal which consolidates services and saves the taxpayers money is worthy of analysis,”Ribando said.

The budget also includes $172,000 to create an inspector general’s office to review contracts.

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