Oyster Bay’s general fund revenues have fallen short of expectations by millions of dollars in five of the previous ten years, according to a review of data in adopted and preliminary budgets.
Not counting 2013, which included the proceeds from a $30 million land sale, actual revenues came in an average of $3.7 million lower than forecasts from 2006 to 2015, budget documents show.
The general fund, which is one of the lines on every town property owner’s tax bill, represents more than 40 percent of Supervisor John Venditto’s proposed $284.1 million budget for 2017. The town has scheduled morning and evening hearings on the budget on Tuesday and the town board is expected to vote on a final budget on Nov. 15.
Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s criticized the town’s budget forecasts when it cut the town’s credit rating to junk status in April, particularly for being “optimistic” in its mortgage recording taxes, local assistance, building fees and recreational revenues.
Oyster Bay finance director Robert Darienzo said the 2017 budget proposal is balanced and does not use any one-shots.
“We believe that the numbers are conservative enough where the budget will on its own stand alone and generate a surplus,” Darienzo said. “We took a close look at every line in both revenues and expenses.”
Darienzo said that the actual revenue amounts in the town’s budget documents for previous years are not necessarily accurate because they don’t use audited figures but he said that with the exception of 2013 they were close.
Councilman Joseph Pinto said in the past the board wasn’t presented with comparisons of budgeted revenue and spending to the actual results.
“We rely on what we’re being told by our finance director and our accounting department; if there are major differences we should be told,” Pinto said.
Pinto said that this year board members have been showed actual results compared to the budget which played a part in cutting consultant spending in the building department.
Last year the town budgeted $950,000 but spent $1.6 million on consultants in the department. This year the board did not renew all the contracts and the proposed 2017 budget slashes consultant spending in that department to $60,000.