Despite questions raised by Republican town leaders, the Islip Town board has come a step closer to adopting a budget for 2012.

At its regular meeting this week, the board approved a resolution that made its tentative budget a preliminary one. The move is required by state law before the town board can pass the budget, officials said. A public hearing and vote on the final budget is scheduled for Nov. 10.

"This really is just the next step in the budget process as outlined by the state of New York," said town Comptroller Joseph Ludwig.

The $121 million budget contains spending increases in the 1 to 3 percent range for most town departments, Ludwig said. Islip will also appropriate $23 million from its "rainy-day" fund and reserves for debt servicing, he said.

Islip officials also propose forgoing the practice of funding its state retirement obligations early, in December, and instead paying the amount by the final February 2013 deadline, to cut an estimated $5 million to $6 million from the 2012 budget cycle.

Tuesday's resolution passed 3-2, with council members voting along party lines. The Democrats on the council, who supported the resolution, said the budget was strong and keeps taxes flat and expenditures low.

Council member Steven J. Flotteron, a Republican, voted against the resolution and expressed concern to Ludwig during the meeting that the revenue expected in the budget may be exaggerated and doesn't take into account a drop in property taxes.

Ludwig said town officials, who believe the revenue numbers are accurate, used figures from past budgets to make estimates for next year.

Council member Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, also a Republican, criticized the amount of money taken out of the town's rainy-day fund and its forgoing funding its 2012 state retirement obligations until the final February 2013 deadline.

The amount that will be taken from the rainy-day fund is in line with similar amounts appropriated in recent years, Ludwig has said.

In other actions, the town board unanimously approved a resolution by Flotteron to hold a special meeting during future budget processes where town department heads will present their individual budgets to the public and take and answer questions.

The town board also unanimously approved resolutions to bring the town's tax exemption levels for veterans, seniors, and disabled Islip Town residents in line with the New York State Real Property Tax Law.

It also voted to hold a public hearing on Nov. 15 at 2 p.m. about a resolution dealing with permissible noise levels and the management of noise complaints throughout the town.

Search at Heuermann's home continues … Rangers preview … Rock of Ages Credit: Newsday

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Search at Heuermann's home continues … Rangers preview … Rock of Ages Credit: Newsday

Updated 8 minutes ago School budget vote ... Gilgo probe continues ... SBU students arraigned ... Overnight at the wineries

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