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Huntington's $185M budget plan holds line on taxes

The Huntington Town Board unveiled a $185-million preliminary operating budget for 2010 that calls for no tax increases for residents in the four taxing funds: general, part-town, refuse and highway.

Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said the budget proposal represents a $10.5-million reduction in spending from this year.

Petrone said the town's property tax would have actually been reduced if not for the payroll tax enacted as part of the state's $2.26-billion bailout of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

"When the economic climate affects so many of our residents," said Petrone, "and jobless rates and foreclosures rise, it is time for us, as a municipality, to tighten our belts and to reduce spending and taxes, so that our residents are not overburdened."

Spending cuts will come from a salary freeze for elected officials and appointed personnel ($300,000), the elimination of nine full-time positions ($500,000), delaying filling some jobs ($800,000), along with a $600,000 decrease in the cost of employee health benefits, partly because there are fewer employees. A decrease in the cost of fuel is expected to save $300,000.

Petrone also presented a $17.5-million capital budget funded by $13.8 million in town funds and $3.7 million in grants.

The capital budget includes projects such as Breezy Park (the former Mohlenhoff Nursery) and the Veterans' Community Center at Soundview in Northport, and to complete rehabilitation efforts to the town's infrastructure.

A public hearing on the budgets will be held during next month's town board meeting on Oct 6. The meeting will start one hour early, at 6 p.m.

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