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Southampton passes $85M town budget; taxes stay almost flat

Southampton Town Hall is shown.

Southampton Town Hall is shown. Credit: Erin Geismar

Southampton officials passed an $85 million town budget Wednesday that keeps taxes almost flat, as town board members rejected proposals to spend on raising Dune Road and reducing nitrogen in the water.

The town's main tax rates will increase .66 of a percent, which will add $4.65 to a tax bill on a $500,000 house.

The town's budget passed unanimously, but only after the council rejected proposals from two of its members.

Councilman Chris Nuzzi proposed putting $2 million in highway funds toward raising Dune Road. Nuzzi, who is term-limited after nearly eight years on the board and is due to step down in January, said he has worked for seven years on the $7.5 million project that would raise 5 miles of oceanside road. The road accesses "highly valued homes," acres of parkland, a commercial fishing fleet and restaurants, he said.

Federal or state funding might not come through, he said. "The project's of regional significance, and the town needs to go ahead and fund it," he said.

But Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said she still hoped federal money for Sandy aid would fund the road raising. The town's highway fund, she said, is saddled with debt. She promised to bring back the proposal in six months if no federal funding is forthcoming.

Councilwoman Bridget Fleming proposed spending $500,000 for septic tank upgrades or inspections. Her earlier proposal to allocate $1 million toward the program failed to gain traction.

"The long-term economic health of the region is threatened by the degradation of the waterways," Fleming said.

She said the expenditure could come from the $8.4 million the town has above the 17 percent reserve that town policy mandates.

Throne-Holst said that while she supports efforts at reducing nitrogen in the waters, the situation calls for a regional solution. Councilwoman Christine Scalera said, "It's not fiscally prudent or practical to put that kind of money into it at this time."

The town also approved two new positions. A building and zoning building permit examiner will be paid $50,571, plus benefits worth $35,494. An environmental facilities manager position will be paid $55,000, with benefits worth $32,236.The town also passed a hiring freeze resolution, which had already been in effect. Police, part-time and seasonal employees are exempted from the hiring freeze, and the town board can bypass the hiring freeze through resolution.

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