Concerns about the coronavirus and its impact on the local economy led Patchogue officials to approve a bare-bones budget that delays some planned improvement projects.
The $16.1 million budget approved Monday raises taxes 1.71%, but anticipates possible cuts in state aid and losses of revenue, such as parking fees and ticket sales at the village-owned Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, which is temporarily closed because of the virus.
Mayor Paul Pontieri said Tuesday the budget includes a $750,000 deficit because of expected revenue shortfalls, adding the village will finish the current year with a $200,000 deficit. The village will dip into its $3 million reserve fund to plug the deficits, he said.
“There’s a whole series of dominoes because of the coronavirus,” Pontieri said. “These are the things that surpluses are used for. ... Your mother said, plan for a rainy day. That rainy day is a storm.”
The village board voted 6-0 to approve the budget during Monday's meeting, which was closed to the public. The board met remotely through a video hookup broadcast on social media; the meeting can be viewed on the village's YouTube channel, Pontieri said.
The average home with an assessed value of $2,500 will see village taxes go up by $33.75, Pontieri said. The tax hike is within the maximum 1.77% increase allowed by the state tax cap law, Pontieri said.
The $16,094,902 budget raises overall spending 1% over the current year's $15,929,408 spending plan. The new budget takes effect on June 1.
Pontieri said the village expects to lose substantial revenue from building fees, parking meters and parking fines, because of the pandemic. The closure of the Patchogue theater, which last week laid off its staff, will cause the village to lose revenue from its share of ticket fees, Pontieri said. The theater plans to reopen in the fall.
Pontieri said the village also anticipates reductions in state aid because of COVID-19.
Uncertainty over revenue caused the village board to forgo major parks improvements and to scrap plans to buy new highway sweepers next year, Pontieri said, adding the village anticipates "double digit" increases in retirement and health care costs for village employees because of volatility in the stock market.
The budget includes $22,000 for summer concerts, though Pontieri conceded those shows may be curtailed if state bans on public gatherings remain in place. Other annual programs, such as swimming lessons at village parks, also depend on when social distancing guidelines are lifted.
“You hope we can provide all the programs we currently provide,” Pontieri said.
He said the board on Monday plans to approve an 18-month moratorium on new restaurants and taverns, to address the village's persistent parking shortages. The village, however, may wait to implement the moratorium while it gauges the impact of COVID-19 on downtown businesses.