Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst proposed an $88.5 million 2015 budget Tuesday, saying revenues from the town's booming real estate market will help it meet growing demand for public safety and other services with a minimal property tax hike.
The supervisor said she wanted to leave the amount of money the town raises in taxes almost unchanged next year, but told town board members she would support a hike that is within the state's cap. The town board will vote on the budget on Nov. 2.
Throne-Holst proposed increasing spending by $3 million, in part to pay for eight new employees, including two police officers, a police department technician and a code-enforcement officer.
But the town would only need to increase the amount of money it raises in property taxes by about $200,000, to $57 million, said town Comptroller Leonard Marchese.
Because Southampton's total assessed value is projected to swell next year, the tax rate would remain effectively unchanged, Marchese said.
That's largely because of projected increases in mortgage-tax revenue, which is tied to the town's real estate market, and income from fees and fines, Throne-Holst said.
She also cited a projected decrease in debt-service costs and proposed taking $1.3 million from the town's $29 million reserve.
The budget includes pay raises for union employees -- secured in two contracts signed this year -- and also for elected officials and nonunion administrative staff, Marchese said.
Throne-Holst's salary would increase by about 2 percent to $104,000 and council members' salaries would increase by about 3 percent to $62,000, he said.
Throne-Holst credited Southampton's AAA Standard & Poor's credit rating -- achieved in June -- with saving the town a projected $500,000 a year in debt-service costs.
"As a result of nearly five years of truly conservative fiscal practices, our town is in an especially strong financial position," the supervisor said.
Throne-Holst told the town board she would back them if they wanted to raise the tax levy up to the state's cap, which this year is 1.5 percent. New York State has agreed to reimburse many residents for municipal tax hikes that are within the cap.
Councilwoman Christine Scalera said in an interview Tuesday that she was "generally encouraged that there's a zero percent tax-rate increase" but "a little concerned that there's seemingly a willingness to go to a 1.5 percent" tax-levy increase.