East Hampton Town’s $75.1 million tentative 2017 budget increases spending by 1.8 percent and includes funding to hire replacement police officers and keep town beaches clean.
Supervisor Larry Cantwell said the budget, released Monday, would increase the tax levy by 1.3 percent, which he noted is in line with the New York State tax levy cap.
For a home outside of the Sag Harbor and East Hampton villages with an assessed value of approximately $1.2 million, owners would see an annual tax increase of $22. Taxes would decrease by $32 a year for a similar home located within those two villages.
“The budget increase of 1.8 percent reflects increased salary and benefit costs for existing employees,” Cantwell said in a news release issued late Monday. “At the same time, we are cutting expenses by closing the scavenger waste plant and dramatically cutting the Town’s outstanding debt.” He was referring to money the town has saved — at least $300,000 this year, Cantwell said — since shuttering the plant in 2014.
Though officials were largely concerned in the town’s 2016 budget with having adequate funding to hire additional police and other personnel to address quality-of-life issues in Montauk last summer, Cantwell said the crackdown has calmed things down, allowing officials to more sharply focus attention on some of East Hampton’s other needs.
“The board granted us three additional officers in the 2016 budget, bringing our total number of sworn personnel up to 65,” East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael D. Sarlo said Tuesday in an email. “With retirements, we had two additional vacancies, for a total of five open positions to be filled during 2016.”
Sarlo said two officers were hired in the spring and two in September, leaving one position to fill. “As of now, all officers will be part of the uniform patrol division and will balance out our patrol squads.”
Cantwell said the tentative spending plan allows the town to maintain staffing levels in the fire, code enforcement and building department, and includes funds for seasonal programs to keep the town’s beaches clean and improve lifeguard protection.
But Cantwell said there are other budgetary challenges. The supervisor said $800,000 in projected employee health insurance cost increases, and an additional $700,000 to provide 2 percent increases negotiated by some unions, had to be included in the budget.
The town board will discuss the budget at an Oct. 11 work session at the Montauk Firehouse.