Mayor Allan Dorman says Islandia's finances are under control, despite a warning from the state comptroller that the village is under "significant fiscal stress."
"We have always practiced fiscal responsibility here," Dorman said of the village's $2.3 million budget. "I've never raised taxes. I had a year where I actually lowered taxes."
The report, issued last week by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, says Islandia is running critically low on cash reserves.
"When you look at the fact they have a deficit in their total fund and their fund balance, that should tell village officials that they need to focus on these areas," said Brian Butry, a DiNapoli spokesman.
Dorman, who has been mayor of the 2.4-square mile village since 2005, said the fact that Islandia does not tax its 3,200 residents for sanitation services wasn't reflected in the comptroller's report.
"It's part of the village budget," he said, estimating that the expense saves each household about $400 to $500 a year. "That's what the comptroller doesn't see."
Dorman said the village's revenue are down this year because Suffolk County restructured its traffic violations bureau, taking away a lucrative income stream for the village which lies just south of Exits 57 and 58 on the Long Island Expressway. Previously, the village received a percentage of all fees from violations issued on that stretch of the LIE because the cases were heard in Islandia's traffic court, but the county has taken over the cases.
"The village of Islandia is unique. That revenue for those two exits was a lot of money," he said. The loss of an estimated $300,000 to $400,000 in traffic ticket fines, combined with a recovering economy and decreased mortgage tax income, has hurt the village's cash on hand, Dorman said.
"We don't have a lot in reserve," he said. "We had an audit three years ago, and they criticized us for having too much reserve. There's no happy medium."
"The goal is to grow revenue without raising taxes," he said, adding that the village still collects about $15,000 in monthly revenue from two cell towers leasing village property and about $50,000 a year from code enforcement violations.
Still, Dorman expects next year's budget to be a challenge. "We're at the wire now," he said.