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Oyster Bay Town supervisor touts budget not yet proposed

Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino on

Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino on Thursday, June 29, 2017 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Campaign literature distributed by Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino over the weekend touted a budget without a tax hike, the town’s reduction of debt and ethics reform.

The literature — a door hanger with a photograph of Saladino and Town Board member Thomas Hand — appeared on Hand’s Facebook page and lists the three accomplishments as checked boxes under the words “New Honest Leadership.”

Saladino was appointed supervisor Jan. 30 after John Venditto resigned. Hand was appointed to the board in May. Both are running to keep their seats in the November election.

While the campaign literature cites a no-tax-increase budget, Saladino has yet to submit his proposed 2018 budget for the town. The budget is due by Sept. 30 and a vote on the final budget is due by Nov. 20.

“I will be proposing a zero percent, no-increase budget and we’ll have that out before Election Day,” Saladino said in an interview Monday. “It will be very transparent, to bring transparency and to prove that our methods are fiscally sound.”

The town board adopted a budget with no tax increase in the last election year — 2015 — and then increased the property tax levy by 11.5 percent when it adopted the current budget last year.

Saladino did not say whether the town would increase taxes in the 2019 budget.

The town’s debt, which the campaign literature stated dropped by $70 million, was projected by the Venditto administration to decrease by $75 million from the beginning of 2016 to the end of 2017. Venditto administration officials told investors last year that the town board had adopted a policy to borrow less money than it paid off each year in order to reduce debt over time. The town was already scheduled to pay down $68.2 million in bond debt this year, according to town financial records.

Saladino said the town would surpass Venditto’s projections by directing savings to pay down debt, but he did not say by how much.

“Rather than speculate, we’re going to continue to consolidate, we’re going to continue to save money,” Saladino said.

Saladino’s campaign literature also stated he had “Passed Historic Ethics Reforms.” But the town board under Venditto last year passed a major revision of its ethics code, including the creation of a new ethics board, and adopted new financial disclosure forms.

“They started the idea, I followed up with it,” Saladino said of the Venditto administration. The town board has not modified the ethics code since Saladino’s appointment.

Saladino cited as reforms under his administration: appointing members to the ethics board, hiring a new town attorney and replacing concessionaires at town facilities through a public process.

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