Amityville Mayor Jim Wandell presided over his first regular board meeting Monday night, announcing a voluntary pay cut for some elected leaders and pushing trustees to forgo scheduled preparations for exceeding the state’s 2 percent tax levy cap.
The moves were immediately popular and largely symbolic. Cutting Wandell’s $14,000 salary and the $7,000 salaries of trustees Jessica Bernius and Nick LaLota by 20 percent, as the mayor announced — trustees Kevin Smith and Dennis Siry did not make similar announcements — will shave a mere $5,600 off a $14.5-million budget. And trustees still have two weeks to lay the groundwork for a law authorizing the village to exceed the cap.
But for Wandell, who campaigned on a platform of fiscal responsibility, there was a practical aspect to holding off on a tax cap law as well. Such legislation, he said, “would give us an easy out for raising taxes.” Trustees are now working on a budget that includes a 5.5 percent tax increase, he said; after meetings in coming days with department heads and FEMA officials, that number could drop. “We will make every effort to get within the 2 percent cap,” he told residents.
Trustees also agreed to spend up to $50,000 on repairs to the municipal beach and $29,718 on the annual fire department installation dinner.
They showed little inclination to slash that expense, a traditional perquisite for members of the volunteer department and their spouses that includes food and liquor.
“The invitations have already been printed,” LaLota said. “This is from a previous board’s budget. ... This was a promise made.”