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Amityville officials consider ways to close $958,000 budget shortfall

Amityville Village Hall is shown on Feb. 25,

Amityville Village Hall is shown on Feb. 25, 2014. Credit: Steve Pfost

Cancellation of health benefits for retired officials, higher fines and aggressive pursuit of ticket scofflaws were discussed Thursday as Amityville officials sought to close a $958,000 budget deficit while remaining within the state-imposed property tax cap.

Trustee Nick LaLota, the village budget officer, has said that some municipal jobs may be consolidated to help close that gap, but there was no public discussion of that during the morning budget work session at Village Hall.

Trustees have until April 27, when they will vote on a final budget, to make cuts or find nontax revenue for what is now a $16.2 million spending plan. The tax increase required to simply meet current spending demands would be 9.3 percent. Trustees did not grant themselves authority to pierce the 1.68 percent cap this year.

The average village house, valued at $375,000, will be entitled to a $50 property tax "freeze" check from the state if the village comes in under the cap, officials said, essentially negating a tax increase if the budget rose 1.68 percent.

Cost-saving measures being discussed include eliminating lifetime health benefits for eight former part-time officials, including ex-trustees and a former mayor's secretary, which would save the village $100,000 a year, LaLota said. But trustee Dennis Siry said he was uncomfortable canceling benefits for the former officials, some of whom are aging retirees.

Ticket scofflaws are a potential revenue source for the village, which has 4,471 parking and other tickets outstanding.

An amnesty day for violators could result in a quick revenue injection, Police Chief Donald Dobby said. Trustees discussed but did not take any action on proposals to boot scofflaws' vehicles and increase some fines.

The next board of trustees meeting is April 13.

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