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Huntington’s 2018 budget passed by board with 1.8% tax levy hike

Huntington town hall in Huntington is shown Sept. 2,

Huntington town hall in Huntington is shown Sept. 2, 2016. Credit: Ed Betz

The Huntington Town Board approved a $194.2 million spending plan for 2018 and a $16.6 million capital budget that paves the way for a community center, new animal shelter and two spray parks.

At a special meeting Monday, the board also approved assessment rolls for the Centerport and Huntington sewer districts.

All four resolutions were approved 3-1, with board member Gene Cook voting no. Board member Susan Berland was absent.

“This is a balanced budget,” Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said. “We’ve left the town and the new administration in a strong fiscal position and a good management position.”

Petrone steps down at the end of this year after 22 years in office.

The final budget included a small change from the preliminary budget to make two appointed positions Civil Service jobs, Petrone said. There also was a part-time legislative aide job that was changed to a full-time job, he said.

The spending budget represents a $4.2 million increase over 2017, with the hike largely attributable to higher health care costs, Petrone said.

The tax levy is projected to increase by $2.12 million, or 1.80 percent. That is below the state tax cap of 1.84 percent and represents a 1.1 percent tax levy increase for the three major funds — General Fund, Highway Fund and Refuse District Fund, town officials said.

Residents in the town’s two ambulance districts — Huntington and Commack — will see decreases in the tax levies for those funds, 12.6 percent in Huntington and 3.18 percent in Commack. The tax decreases reflect revenues from billing patients’ insurance companies.

While the budget does not call for any layoffs, it does forecast a small decrease in staffing from attrition. Current levels of service will be maintained, town officials said.

Cook said sewer rate increases associated with the assessment rolls were “over taxing.” In the Centerport Sewer district, which has 75 residential and commercial parcels, the increase was 18.4 percent for residential and 25.9 percent for commercial. In Huntington, the increase is 7.1 percent for 3,613 parcels.

“I also didn’t like the last minute changes to the budget involving jobs,” Cook said. “It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough I didn’t like the way it went down, there are other things in the budget I had concerns with but I just didn’t like the maneuvering at the last minute.”

The capital spending budget is at the same level as this year with $3.75 million going toward the start of construction of the James D. Conte Community Center at the former New York State Armory in Huntington Station. Another $3 million will go to build a new animal shelter adjacent to Mill Dam Park in Halesite. The town’s first two spray parks will be built, one at Manor Field Park next to the Conte Center, and the other at Elwood Park.

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