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Long IslandPolitics

Sag Harbor’s $10.3M budget includes raises, pierces tax cap

Sag Harbor Village’s recently approved budget will increase by $1.1 million, piercing the state-mandated tax cap and raising salaries and benefits by more than $433,000.

The 2017-18 spending plan will total $10.34 million, up 11.96 percent from last year’s $9.235 million budget.

“All the typical usual suspects, that’s primarily the reason for the increase,” Village Treasurer Eileen Tuohy said Wednesday, noting the boost was largely due to contractual salary raises and new equipment purchases.

About half the budget increase will be funded by an additional $558,080 in property tax revenue — a 9.25 percent boost resulting from taxable property values increasing by $203 million to $2.4 billion. The tax rate will stay the same at $2.739 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The village board approved the budget on April 11. The village will not face any penalties for piercing the tax cap — which requires local governments raise taxes no more than 2 percent or the rate of inflation — because the budget passed with a majority vote, Tuohy said.

Salaries are set to increase by a total of $233,007 across nine departments, with the police department receiving the largest boost of $81,833. Benefits will increase collectively by $200,054, including a $90,979 increase for volunteer ambulance workers.

The higher salaries and benefits — representing about 39 percent of the budget increase — are due to new hires and contractual raises under settlements with the Sag Harbor Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the Civil Service Employees Association, said Tuohy and Village Clerk Beth Kamper.

The village government has about 100 employees, so raises would average about $2,000 per worker.

Other significant budget increases include about $200,000 more for new fire trucks and ambulance equipment, an additional $178,000 for highway department costs and $130,000 for upgrading a wharf.

Officials also plan to raise revenue by increasing fines and fees by about $215,000 and charging $184,587 more for other districts to use the village’s fire and ambulance services.

Sag Harbor resident Juliana Bennett, 26, said she believes village employees “do a good job” and deserve raises. But she said increasing property taxes puts a “financial strain” on residents who are “already struggling to stay afloat.”

“It feels like we’re being pushed out, and it’s harder to stay here every generation that passes,” Bennett said.

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