Southold’s tentative $47.3 million town budget for 2019 calls for a 3.7 percent increase over the current spending plan to cover the cost of two major contracts being renewed at the same time and the creation of a fire marshal position.
Though Supervisor Scott Russell said Friday that the $1,687,357 spending increase was due to several factors, the main ones are the settlement of terms for a new three-year contract with the Police Benevolent Association and contract negotiations with the Civil Service Employees Association. The CSEA covers most of Southold’s government employees, such as clerical support staff, highway workers and administrators.
The PBA contract, which the town approved three weeks ago, calls for an annual 2 percent salary increase for police officers over the next three years. Russell said that because CSEA contract negotiations are ongoing he could not disclose contract terms.
“A large part of the spending increase for next year was just the uniqueness of having [those] two contracts settled in the same year,” Russell said. “The timing just happened to work out where both [contracts] were going to be resolved for 2019.”
The bigger budget is also a result of Southold increasing its debt service by $225,000 to cover costs related to the town's acquisition of the former Capital One building on Main Road for conversion into Southold’s new Justice Court. Russell said the facility is expected to open next year.
The $36,138 salary for each town board member and the supervisor's $109,722 salary would rise about 3 percent under the 2019 budget.
The budget calls for the creation of a full-time fire marshal position, effective June 1, 2019, but only if pending legislation is passed creating a town code for rental properties. A public hearing on the proposed code is set for Oct. 23 at Town Hall. The fire marshal would assist the town with annual mandatory rental unit inspections.
Homeowners with an average assessed property value of $6,000 would see their annual taxes increase by 2.26 percent, or $45. That amount would be less for residents receiving veterans exemptions or income-eligible seniors, Russell said.
Southold’s budget is still projected to be “well below” New York State’s 2 percent tax cap, Russell said, even if revisions are made and the tax rate goes up.
The town board has not voted on the budget, which must be adopted by Nov. 20.