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Brookhaven warned about using up reserves

Brookhaven Town Hall is located at 1 Independence

Brookhaven Town Hall is located at 1 Independence Hill in Farmingville. The town is offering free drug testing kits to concerned parents. (Aug. 17, 2008) Photo Credit: Newsday File / Bill Davis

Brookhaven Town spending is expected to outweigh revenue by $28 million in the next three years, further depleting already low reserves and putting the town bond and credit rating at risk, town officials warn.

The municipality, which passed a $247 million budget in November, is expected to spend roughly $7 million more than it takes in this year, $5.6 million next year and $15.62 million in 2015 -- when debt service from past borrowing increases, according to financial projections.

Last year, Brookhaven's spending outweighed revenue by $8.4 million, town Finance Commissioner Tamara Wright said during a presentation Thursday at the town board work session.

Brookhaven has a projected $34 million in surplus this year, but that number is expected to decrease to $28 million next year and $12 million in 2015, according to Wright.

The town is supposed to have $28 million, or 20 percent of its spending, in the reserve fund for emergencies, or risk a decreased credit score and bond rating, town officials said.

The town doesn't want to increase taxes, so other revenue sources must be found or spending must be halted, Wright said.

Officials say the town aims to cut overtime, gasoline and seasonal employee expenditures.

Nearly 50 percent of the town's revenue comes from the Yaphank landfill, while 17 percent is from property taxes, Wright added.

Health insurance expenses are expected to increase from $10.6 million in 2012 to $13.9 million in 2015, according to the projections. Annual health insurance premiums are expected to increase from $20,239 this year to $24,489 in 2015, officials said.

Brookhaven Democratic Councilwoman Connie Kepert said attempting to balance the budget without having additional revenue is nearly impossible. "Unless we increase taxes, there will be cuts and a decrease in services," she said. "Unfortunately, those are the choices left to us."

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