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Proposed Riverhead 2022 budget: tax cuts, funds for police body cameras

"Sound financial planning in 2021 paved the way

"Sound financial planning in 2021 paved the way for the stable fiscal position we find ourselves in today," Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said in a statement, referencing a reduced tax levy in the tentative 2022 budget. Credit: Randee Daddona

Riverhead’s tentative $60.3 million budget would include a reduction in the tax levy next year as well as funds for police body cameras and expanded code enforcement.

The 2022 budget would raise spending by 2.08% from the $59.07 million fiscal plan approved for 2021. The town’s tax levy — the amount Riverhead raises through taxes — would drop to $48,021,203 from $49,664,100 this year.

In a statement, Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said the property tax levy would be reduced "despite the many fiscal challenges" the town has faced, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Sound financial planning in 2021 paved the way for the stable fiscal position we find ourselves in today," Aguiar said. "It is these fiscal efforts that have enabled me to reduce taxes in the Highway Fund while keeping taxes in the general fund and in street lighting to the same level as 2021."

If approved, Aguiar said in the statement, the 2022 town budget would be the first in 21 years to include a reduction in property taxes.

Aguiar did not immediately return requests for further comment.

Salaries for the town’s elected officials would remain the same as in 2021 under the proposed budget. Aguiar’s salary would stay at $115,148. The salaries for the four town board members would continue at $48,955, with annual pay for the town’s tax receiver, assessors and town clerk remaining at $83,846. The assessor chair's salary would continue at $96,549 and the highway superintendent $94,803 salary also stays the same.

The proposed budget would provide Riverhead with the ability to enhance the town’s Information Technology infrastructure, Aguiar said in the statement. The fiscal plan would also pay for body cameras to be worn by town police officers and expanded code enforcement, the supervisor said.

In March, the Riverhead Town Board approved a police reform plan that would support adding body cameras for the police department. Body cameras and best practices for using them were among several measures recommended in the plan.

The town board has until Nov. 20 to discuss or amend the budget. The tentative budget would be finalized for 2022 if the board does not make any changes.

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