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Long IslandTowns

Glen Cove mayor reveals $69.9 million budget for 2014

Glen Cove Mayor Ralph Suozzi presented his $69.9 million budget proposal Tuesday night at the City Council meeting, a plan that would boost residential and commercial property tax rates and overall spending.

"It presents an honest look at the revenues we expect and the expenses we expect to have," Suozzi said.

Under the plan, residential tax rates would rise 1.67 percent and commercial property tax rates by 3.24 percent. Overall spending would rise by 3.7 percent, compared to this year's $67.4 million adopted budget.

The tax increase is under the state's 1.6 percent tax cap, which governs how large an increase the tax levy can be. Property values are expected to continue to slide, which means higher tax rates would be needed to bring in the same amount of revenue. The proposed property tax levy would increase to $29.7 million from $29.3 million, a 1.4 percent increase.

Phyllis Gorham, executive director of the Glen Cove Chamber of Commerce, said that tax increases on commercial properties could be tough on businesses.

"Most of my businesses are surviving but they're not thriving and then an increase puts them deeper down the hole."

The city plans to borrow to pay tax certiorari settlements. The tax settlements pay refunds to property owners who lower their assessments by successfully suing the city.

Suozzi said the city has been trying to budget for the payments, but the weak economy and the tax cap have made it difficult to accomplish.

"There are other [budget] lines you can't borrow for," he said. "Tax certs we can borrow for, [but] we don't like to."

City Councilman Reginald Spinello, running as a Republican against Democrat Suozzi in November, criticized the mayor's borrowing practices. "He keeps kicking the can down the road," Spinello said.

Spinello also said he questions whether the city would get two revenue items totaling $1 million: the sale of property and payments from the waterfront developer. Suozzi said he did not foresee a problem with either item.

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