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Babylon Town proposes 6.2% tax increase in next year's budget

Babylon Town Hall in Lindenhurst in 2020.

Babylon Town Hall in Lindenhurst in 2020. Credit: Barry Sloan

The Town of Babylon is proposing a 6.2% tax increase in next year’s budget, fueled primarily by the state-mandated capping of a town ashfill.

A public hearing on the 2022 tentative budget, which pierces the tax cap, will be held on Thursday.

The $147.8 million tentative budget is a .9% increase over last year’s proposed budget of $146.4 million.

Tentative budgets do not include the town’s fire district costs. Those costs are included in the final budget adopted by the board.

Last year, the town’s final adopted budget was $166.2 million.

Homes with an average assessed valuation of $3,480 will see an annual increase of $88.22 to bring their tax bill to $1,516.

"Absent what we’re having to do because of a requirement, we probably would have had a pretty flat budget," said Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer.

Town Comptroller Victoria Marotta said the tax increase is mostly due to the residential garbage fund tax rate increase of $94.63, bringing the average home’s bill for the fund to $382.80.

The proposed hike is needed, the town said, to fund the capping and closure of the town’s more than 11-acre northern ashfill, which holds the ash from waste burned at the Covanta plant in West Babylon.

The state DEC has mandated that the town can no longer postpone the roughly $8.5 million ashfill closure, Marotta said. She said the town has opted to fund the closure through the operating budget rather than bonding. Schaffer said this will ultimately save money.

"I believe if we can pay for it as we go and save taxpayers money in borrowing costs then I believe that’s the way to go," he said, adding that bond rating agencies like to see that practice as well.

The next highest fund increase for residents is due to a new tax bill line item, general fund — Fire Dispatch Services. That $25.15 for the average home will fund Babylon Central Fire Alarm, the town’s 911 emergency dispatch service.

Residents previously saw the cost for this service under their fire district’s taxes. The service had been provided under a corporation but the town will now be taking it over and are consolidating the taxes under the new line item, said spokesman Kevin Bonner.

Under the proposed budget, the town would apply more than $3.3 million in reserve money from six different funds to help offset expenses, including $2 million from the general fund.

The hearing will be held at 3:30 p.m. at Old Town Hall, 47 W. Main St. in Babylon and livestreamed on the town’s YouTube channel.

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