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Hempstead OKs $419M budget, to use reserves

The flag of India will be raised at

The flag of India will be raised at Hempstead Town Hall Friday in honor of India Republic Day. (Nov. 28, 2011) Credit: JC Cherubini

Hempstead Town officials plan to use $29.1 million from town reserves to help fund the proposed $419.4 million budget for 2013, they said during one of two public budget hearings Tuesday.

The town board Tuesday unanimously adopted the 2013 budget after the hearings.

The budget would increase by 1.1 percent. The tax levy would fall 0.5 percent to $262.2 million, which would reduce taxes by about $7, to about $828 annually, for the average homeowner.

Felix Procacci, of Franklin Square, complained during one hearing that the budget and staff have increased during Supervisor Kate Murray's tenure.

Town Comptroller Kevin R. Conroy said the town workforce would remain at 1,996 employees in 2013 and employee salaries would decrease by $2.1 million.

The 2013 budget includes a $50-million capital spending plan for projects such as a 16,000-square-foot recreation center in Lido Beach and downtown revitalization projects in Baldwin, Oceanside and Elmont.

Reserve funds anticipated to be used for 2012 will be $8.6 million, down from the originally budgeted $30 million, town spokesman Michael Deery said.

Hempstead maintains a total reserve fund equivalent to about 25 percent of the budget, Conroy has said.

Animal welfare advocates at Tuesday's hearings asked for more detail about the town shelter's $4.1 million budget; about $3 million would go toward salaries, officials said.

This year, the animal shelter has a $7.45 million budget, of which nearly $3.5 million was budgeted for work done by other town departments on its behalf -- such as legal services and licensing.

The state comptroller's office recently mandated that such services provided to the shelter be budgeted to the department performing the service.

"It's an accounting issue," Conroy said.

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