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Head of the Harbor taxes to rise 18%

Head of the Harbor will not purchase any

Head of the Harbor will not purchase any new police cruisers as part of its plan to offset rising expenses and lower revenues. (Mar. 12, 2012) Credit: Heather Walsh

Head of the Harbor homeowners will see a double-digit tax increase in the new year.

Property taxes will go up about 18 percent as the tony North Shore village faces a combination of increasing expenses and declining revenue, Mayor Natale Tartamella said.

Taxes are going up partly because the Town of Smithtown has reduced property values in the village by $400,000 due to successful assessment challenges filed by residents, he said.

The village faces steep increases in expenses such as health insurance, fire protection and state workers' compensation, but revenue from justice court fines is expected to drop by 33 percent, from $60,000 to $40,000, he said.

"At the end of the day, we had to raise the taxes roughly $340 per household, and that's with no one getting a raise," Tartamella said.

The village board on Dec. 18 unanimously passed a $1.63 million budget -- a 5.9 percent increase over the current $1.54 million budget, which expires Feb. 28. The board in November approved a resolution permitting it to exceed the state tax levy cap, the mayor said.

To contain costs, village employees will not receive raises, and for the second straight year the village will not replace one of its four police vehicles; in past years, the village bought a new police cruiser every year, he said.

The village -- which has about 2,500 residents and 600 homes -- employs about 30 people, most whom work part-time, Tartamella said.

He said less surplus cash was available to reduce the tax hike because the village spent $41,000 in reserve funds for superstorm Sandy cleanup. Federal reimbursements for storm-related expenses are not expected until late 2013, he said.

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