Town of Babylon homeowners would see a reduction in property taxes with the 2019 budget.
The town's $159,295,255 preliminary budget has a 3 percent decrease over last year’s amended budget of $164,093,196. This would mean a .4 percent reduction in property taxes, or $5.17, for property owners with an average home assessed valuation of $3,490, for a total town tax bill of $1,286.75.
Tax rates would remain the same for all funds except the part-town fund, which falls from 1.49 to 1.26. Town Comptroller Victoria Marotta attributed the drop to a combination of the town increasing building department fees and a rise in the number of people seeking permits due to an improved housing market.
Marotta said the town was able to reduce taxes partly because of a leveling off of pension expenses. The town also is finishing off its debt service on the Covanta solid waste facility in West Babylon this year. However, she said, health insurance premiums continue to climb, with a projected increase of 7 to 8 percent next year.
The town is allocating $4.18 million from the general fund surplus toward capital improvement projects — including an ongoing renovation of the town hall annex — up from last year's $1.96 million allocation. Marotta said the town also was using $2.3 million from the garbage fund surplus for a planned expansion of an ashfill next year. This allows the town to pay for the projects without acquiring more debt while keeping surplus funds in the range of 15 to 25 percent of total expenditures, she said. The state comptroller’s office in the past has criticized the town for keeping surpluses in its garbage funds above this range.
Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said the town on Tuesday received reaffirmation from Moody’s Investors Service of its Aaa rating, its highest bond rating, given to the town in December. He said this rating, and the town continuing to retire more debt than it takes on, partly made the proposed tax decrease possible.
“There’s been a lot of hard work done over the last few years to get here,” Schaffer said.
The town will have a public hearing on its preliminary budget on Nov. 8 at 3:30 p.m.