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Amityville Village mayor says budget was adopted properly

Amityville officials released a proposed budget of $15.8

Amityville officials released a proposed budget of $15.8 million on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, that would keep taxes flat. Above, Village Hall is seen on Feb. 25, 2014. Credit: Steve Pfost

Amityville Village’s budget process was in line with state law and passed appropriately, the village’s mayor said.

The legality of the village’s process was called into question last month by several residents after the village failed to have a hard copy of its proposed budget available to residents before a public hearing, putting the document online hours prior.

However, officials made changes to the budget and then had another hearing on May 1 — the state deadline to approve the budget — providing the budget both in hard copy and online at 9 a.m. that day.

The $15,840,664, zero tax increase budget was approved by the board of trustees in a 3-2 vote.

Amityville Mayor Dennis Siry said he has consulted with the village attorney and the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials and was told everything the village did was in line with the law.

Trustees Nick LaLota and Jessica Bernius voted against the final proposed budget. Prior to the vote, LaLota presented a list of spending modifications that he said, if adopted, would lead to his approval of the budget. Those modifications were voted down by the board 3-2.

LaLota said he couldn’t support a budget that “neglects vital programs . . . . and whose process lacks transparency.”

LaLota and Bernius said they wanted an additional $7,280 dedicated to the village’s quality of life officers to fund another shift and wanted $4,000 in funding for the videotaping of meetings to ensure more transparency.

One of the costs they would have eliminated is $14,000 for three hand-held ticketing devices for parking and quality of life violations. Currently tickets are hand-written.

Siry said the village’s current quality of life officers are “working out fine” and he “didn’t see any reason” to make changes right now. He said there are three officers, two full time and one part-time, but LaLota said the most hours each officer works in a week is 20.

Siry said the police department is also going to be more aggressive with those issues. He said he is not against videotaping the meetings and perhaps will look to fund it in the future.

“I think right now the things we have the money in there for are good things and going forward maybe we can add these other things if we want,” he said.

Siry defended the purchase of the hand-held ticketing devices saying they are a much more efficient and accurate way of writing tickets and that they will lead to more tickets being upheld in court.

“This is something where we’ll get our money back in probably no time,” he said.

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