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Code changes could help boost revenue

Anna Throne-Holst

Anna Throne-Holst Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

In an attempt to find much-needed revenue for next year’s budget, Southampton Town is considering code changes that would increase the percentage of money from two revenue-producing funds the town is allowed to use in its general budget.

The changes were brought up in separate public hearings at Tuesday’s town board meeting.

The first proposal would change the percentage of justice court revenue from fines and fees to be used for human services programs, such as domestic abuse prevention, from 15 percent to “up to” 15 percent, allowing a larger amount to be retained in the general operating budget.

A similar proposal would change from 25 percent to “up to” 30 percent the amount of the fund for franchise fees collected from cable television services to be used for the education and government channel. The proposal would give the town flexibility to put in more or less each year.

Last year, the town received $1,651,422 in revenue from justice court fees and about $170,000 in fees from Cablevision.

The extra money is needed at a time when other revenue sources such as mortgage tax are lower than usual, and fixed costs such as health benefits continue to climb, Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, above, said.

Towns are under state mandate to keep tax levy hikes below 2 percent, but the supervisor said she is looking to present a budget with no tax increase.

Throne-Holst has been meeting with union leaders about labor concessions. If she doesn’t get them, she said, she will likely have to institute layoffs and reduction of services to town residents.

After years of cutbacks, “It’s the only place to find money today,” she said.

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