Oyster Bay Town Hall on March 26, 2012.

Oyster Bay Town Hall on March 26, 2012. Credit: Nicole Bartoline

Oyster Bay's Democratic Committee has started a petition to repeal the unannounced tax hike approved by the town board, calling its passage a "sneak attack."

"It's one thing to raise taxes," Nassau County Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs said. "It's quite another thing to do it in a secretive, underhanded fashion."

John Capobianco, spokesman for the Town of Oyster Bay Democratic Committee, said the petition went live Saturday night. It had more than 90 signatures as of Monday afternoon. The county's Democratic Committee also sent out emails and posted on Facebook about the online petition.

Oyster Bay's all-Republican board unanimously approved an 8.8 percent property tax levy increase in its 2015 budget at its Nov. 18 meeting.

The $278.4 million spending plan is up 0.6 percent from the 2014 budget of $276.8 million. Town officials said the average property tax increase would be about $90 a year.

The tax hike was a departure from the budget proposed Sept. 30 -- which was subject to a public hearing -- that would have kept taxes virtually flat. It is the second year in a row the town has overridden the state tax cap.

Town Supervisor John Venditto called the petition "nothing more than a political stunt," in a statement on Monday.

"Nothing here was done in the dark and there was no intent to deceive," Venditto said. "The Town of Oyster Bay follows the letter of law when it comes to the budget process."

He said, after adopting a preliminary budget, the town held hearings, where he said it was made clear that all options were on the table.

"We said that the preliminary budget was only a starting point, that we had a lot of work to do going forward, and that we were not going to rely on a budget containing revenues that may or may not materialize," he said.

Board members were notified of the final version of the budget Nov. 15, days before it was approved at the meeting, according to towns spokeswoman Marta Kane.

After the Nov. 18 vote, one of the board members, Councilman Joseph Pinto, suggested they had known about it for a longer period of time.

"I don't think the residents knew. I think they knew there would be an increase but as to the amount, I don't even think we finalized it up until a few weeks ago," he said.

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