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East Hampton Town adopts a tentative budget that includes 6 new full-time police department staffers

Six full-time employees will be added to the East Hampton Police Department and Public Safety Division as part of the town's tentative $73.5 million budget for 2016 announced Thursday by Supervisor Larry Cantwell.

The spending plan also provides additional seasonal help in the summer and overtime for law and code enforcement personnel at a cost of $700,000.

Taxes will increase by 1.8 percent, which Cantwell noted is below the New York State-imposed tax levy cap for the town.

"The 2016 budget increases enforcement personnel and our ability to enforce the law and codes throughout the community," Cantwell said in a news release. "Overall, the 2.75 percent spending increase is offset in part by $900,000 in cost savings from lower debt payments and employee retirement contributions."

After what Montauk residents said was an "out of control" July Fourth weekend this year when about 400 complaints were made to police, ranging from public urination to traffic safety issues, demands were made that officials take action against young, rowdy summertime visitors that residents say have plagued the hamlet for years.

After a town board work session during which nearly 300 residents and business owners complained about the summertime "chaos," board members immediately authorized overtime for police, fire and code enforcement personnel and said they would consider staff additions built into the 2016 budget.

Specifically, $625,000 will be allocated for three new police officers, one code enforcement officer, one fire marshal, one building inspector and an additional town attorney. That will bring the totals in those departments for next year to 65 police officers, seven code enforcement officers, three fire marshals, four building inspectors and four assistant town attorneys.

Also added is $82,500 for part-time seasonal help and overtime in the marine patrol and police departments.

"Adding resources to enforcement will allow the town to more effectively identify and prosecute abuses, reduce the occurrences of violations by increased presence, and refine the adopted codes and ordinances with strong new legislation," Cantwell said.

In a telephone interview Thursday, Cantwell said an additional town attorney was also needed because "the enforcement effort works with the legal effort."

The total annual town tax increase for residents with a $1 million home who live outside the villages of East Hampton or Sag Harbor would be about $34 and the increase for residents with $1 million homes within the villages would be $4.

East Hampton Town Board members are scheduled to discuss the budget at their meetings on Oct. 6 and Oct. 13 and a public hearing is set for Nov. 5. Adoption is set for no later than Nov. 19.

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