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Southampton budget plan calls for more spending, tax rate cut

Southampton Town Hall on Hampton Road in Southampton,

Southampton Town Hall on Hampton Road in Southampton, seen Sept. 11, 2013. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

Southampton Town’s proposed $99.4 million budget would increase spending by about $5 million while lowering the property tax rate using a $3 billion boost in property values, officials said.

The 2018 tentative budget released Thursday would lower the tax rate to $1.3891 per $1,000 in assessed property value from the current $1.3998 per $1,000, a decrease of about 0.77 percent, Town Comptroller Leonard Marchese said.

The tax levy would rise to $64 million, an increase of nearly $3 million, while staying under the state-mandated tax levy cap, Marchese said.

“How does spending go up and the tax rate go down? You have revenue growth in the mortgage tax, building permit fees and a number of other areas,” Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said.

For some owners whose property values increased, the tax rate’s impact is unclear because it depends on the parcel’s change in assessed value, Schneiderman noted. Property owners whose property values increased may still pay higher taxes overall, according to the supervisor.

Town revenues are projected to hit nearly $33 million, up from $31.2 million this year, Marchese said. The budget would also use about $2.7 million of $39.9 million in projected fund balance and surplus to offset taxes.

Property values, which are assessed yearly based on market value and new construction, are estimated to be worth $63.7 billion, representing a 15 percent increase from 2013, officials said.

“This year, for the first time in 15 years, the total valuation has increased in every single school district across the town,” Schneiderman said. “We’ve seen various areas of town improving.”

Schneiderman said he plans to maintain funding for current programs while increasing funding for parks maintenance and recreation center improvements.

The budget would add just one new full-time employee: a code enforcement officer.

Schneiderman attributed the largest increases in spending to higher pension costs, a projected $1 million rise in health insurance costs and contractual salary raises of 2 percent to 3 percent.

The tentative budget would also reduce debt by about $5 million and set aside $1 million for future purchases and projects.

Schneiderman said he wants the capital budget to include road improvements, as well as upgrades on the Ponquogue Beach Pavilion, Jackson Avenue town facilities, Shinnecock Commercial Dock and other facilities.

Public hearings on the budget will be held Oct. 24 and Nov. 14. The final budget is set to be adopted Nov. 20.

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