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Patchogue gets OK to top tax cap, if needed

Incumbent Mayor Paul Pontieri and the two trustees

Incumbent Mayor Paul Pontieri and the two trustees running for re-election on his Patchogue 2012 line pointed to the village's downtown revitalization as evidence of their administration's success at a Patchogue debate. Credit: Kevin P Coughlin

Patchogue trustees wanted to ensure the village could exceed the state tax levy cap if necessary. So they passed a resolution Monday allowing them to raise taxes above the 2 percent maximum, though Mayor Paul Pontieri said the budget hasn’t been finalized yet. Trustee Gerard Crean voted against the resolution while the other trustees and Pontieri voted in favor.

“Our goal is to stay very much within the 2 percent,” Pontieri said at Monday’s board meeting.

Crean said he voted no because the village’s finances are in good shape.

“We have enough of a cash reserve and enough latitude to eliminate certain expenses in the village to stay underneath that 2 percent cap,” he said. “If there are any unforeseeable emergency expenditures that might arise, we have a $3.1 million surplus, which is more than enough to cover any emergencies and still leave enough of a cash reserve to maintain our credit ratings.”

Resident Gerald Rothaus questioned the need to raise taxes at all. “A lot of us are running small businesses and it’s a recession, and it’s affecting us,” he said. “The flow of money from residents is not endless.”

David Kennedy, former trustee and founder of civic group NuVillage, called for more education on budget issues.

“Have a sitting budget review committee,” he said, to counter misinformation among residents.

After the vote, Pontieri said the village’s finances have suffered from soaring costs and declining revenue.

“Pension costs are up $98,000 alone,” he said. “And over the last four years we’ve lost almost $500,000 worth of mortgage income.”

New York State requires the budget to be passed by April 30. Patchogue will hold a public hearing on the budget Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Village Hall.

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