A Town of Brookhaven crew removes snow from the shoulder...

A Town of Brookhaven crew removes snow from the shoulder along Old Town Rd. in Coram on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Brookhaven Town officials have proposed a 40 percent spending increase for snow removal next year, following two years in which winter storms snarled local roads.

The $1 million increase -- primarily for purchasing and renting equipment and material to combat snow and ice -- was part of a $274.7 million tentative town budget released Tuesday by Supervisor Edward P. Romaine.

The budget, if approved, would increase town spending by about 1.18 percent. Under state law, towns must adopt final budgets by Nov. 20.

Town officials said they plan to avoid raising taxes next year by reducing staff and debt.

Romaine said Tuesday he decided to boost spending for snow removal after a spate of winter storms, such as a February 2013 blizzard that dumped more than 30 inches of snow and closed some roads for days.

Last winter saw a series of snowstorms that caused the town highway department to nearly double the amount it spent on snow removal material.

"It will give us a cushion . . . in case we get a heavy snowfall, that there will be additional funding," Romaine said of the proposed increase at a news conference.

He added that he does not expect to receive federal disaster aid for an August rainstorm that flooded town roads.

"It's almost Oct. 1, and we still haven't heard" from federal authorities, he said.

The town board will hold a Nov. 6 public hearing on the proposed budget, Romaine said.

He said most homeowners would not see a tax increase next year -- the tax rate for general fund and highway spending would remain at $6.496 per $100 of assessed value.

The town said the job cuts -- 21 full-time and 14 part-time -- will save about $1.5 million. Elected officials, including Romaine and six town council members, will not receive raises.

Romaine said a code enforcement investigator would be added to enhance the town's crackdown on illegal rooming houses, and spending would be boosted for youth and women's services. With the staff reductions, the town will have 867 full-time employees next year.

Town officials have said they reduced the town's debt by $15.7 million in the past two years by eliminating unexpended funds for completed capital projects and canceling projects that had not begun.

Romaine said funding would be continued to "support and enhance" the development of the town's registry of vacant buildings. He said he plans to cut the town's reliance on surplus funds by about $3.2 million.

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