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East Hampton’s 2018 $78M budget includes tax increase, new jobs

East Hampton Town Hall announced on Sept. 25,

East Hampton Town Hall announced on Sept. 25, 2017, a $77.7 million tentative 2018 budget that increases spending by 3.5 percent while staying below the New York State tax levy. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

East Hampton Town’s $77.7 million tentative 2018 budget increases spending by 3.5 percent while staying below the New York State tax levy cap, Supervisor Larry Cantwell said.

The tax rate would increase by less than 1.5 percent, with homeowners inside Sag Harbor and East Hampton villages seeing a 1.23 percent increase in tax payments based on their assessed valuation. Tax payments would rise by 1.42 percent for homeowners outside those villages.

Cantwell said homeowners in special districts could see a tax levy increase of 10 percent because of road improvement projects and fire protection district charges.

The total amount of taxes collected in funds and special districts would increase by about $1.25 million to total about $55 million, Cantwell said.

“These numbers continue a trend in town budgeting over the last four years that has been exemplified by disciplined spending and efficiency in operations,” Cantwell, who is retiring at the end of the year, said Friday in a budget overview. “This has generated a financial recovery that has manifested itself in several credit rating upgrades.”

Funding for law enforcement and public safety would increase by $1.2 million, or about 6 percent, including contractual increases in wages and benefits, the emergency communications equipment and new computer technology, Cantwell said.

The budget’s $2.68 million spending boost is largely due to $2.8 million in expected raises in debt service payments and employee salaries and health benefits, Cantwell said. The rest of the budget decreased by $139,390, he said.

Debt service payments are expected to increase by $785,510, in part because of a recently approved $6.5 million upgrade in emergency communications equipment, Cantwell said.

Salary increases of $958,962 include contractual raises of between 2 and 3 percent. Officials also plan to add three positions to the current full-time staff of 317: an airport account clerk, a marine patrol officer and a clerk to implement records digitization in the building department, Cantwell said.

Health premiums paid by the town are expected to rise by more than $1 million, Cantwell said.

Town officials estimate that non-tax revenue will increase by 4.8 percent, or $1.1 million, thanks to projected rises in rental registry fees, the mortgage tax, employee medical contributions and other licenses and fees.

Cantwell said he plans to use $1.4 million in surplus and reserves in the 2018 budget and projects a $34 million surplus next year. He said he would like to reserve $2 million of the surplus to build affordable housing and $1.5 million for future capital projects, including a new senior center and beach sand replenishment.

The town board will discuss the budget at 10 a.m. on Oct. 10 during a work session at the Montauk Firehouse. The budget must be approved by Nov. 20.

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