The Town of Babylon has proposed a 2021 preliminary budget that would bust the tax cap with a 7.9% tax levy increase.
Under the proposal, the town’s $146.4 million budget would be a decrease from last year’s adopted $148.4 million spending plan. The town had an $8 million deficit due to revenue costs and losses from COVID-19, mandated expenses for town union employees, the creation of a civil service department and a municipal violations court.
Town residents who do not live in the village and have an average assessed home valuation of $3,472 will see their taxes go up by $119.04 annually. Babylon, Amityville and Lindenhurst village residents will see an increase of $83.82 a year.
Supervisor Rich Schaffer said the town will not plan any layoffs or cuts to services.
"This is a budget based on reality," Schaffer said. "It’s a budget based on what we’ve gone through this year in terms of revenue losses."
Schaffer said the last time the town exceeded the tax cap was the 2014 budget. That spending plan, prepared in 2013, included a tax increase of 2.88%, a move needed at the time to offset borrowing costs for damage repairs and a drop in revenue caused by superstorm Sandy in 2012, Schaffer said at the time.
The proposed tax increase covers $5.6 million in lost revenue due to COVID-19, nearly $289,000 in pandemic-related costs such as $71,045 in personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies; $91,330 in contracted cleaning services; $76,000 in remote work technology and $1.6 million in mandated expenses for employees that include pensions, medical costs/benefits and contractual raises for workers.
Town Comptroller Victoria Marotta said lost revenue as a result of multiple factors, among them the economic downturn and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s mandated shutdown in March of all nonessential businesses, includes $632,000 in parks department program fees and permits that were never collected; $100,000 in beach concession losses; $1.6 million in building department fees; $1.4 million from the commercial garbage district; $242,448 from fines and forfeitures; and $1.5 million in interest earnings.
For 2021, the town has allocated about $643,000 to create a civil service department and a municipal violations court, which both require state approval.
"The court is going to definitely improve on our quality of life and continue to combat those that wish to violate our quality of life in the town, whether they be a business or a resident," Schaffer said. "From the civil service aspect, our workforce is going to be happier because it’s not going to take a year or so to process a simple promotion, and it’s going to allow us to do major outreach and recruitment into the 11 school districts, and the local colleges to give young people a better idea of what’s available in terms of job opportunities."
The budget hearing will be livestreamed at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 5 via the town’s YouTube channel. To sign up to speak visit https://www.townofbabylon.com/459/Upcoming-Public-Meetings