By Kathryn G. Menu
Sag Harbor Village’s $8.5 million spending plan for 2014-15 will become official on Thursday, May 1 but unlike previous budgets, this one will be adopted without a formal resolution doing so.
On Tuesday, Mayor Brian Gilbride confirmed that the budget presented at an April 2 public hearing will become the 2014-15 spending plan without action by the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees.
The deadline to adopt a village budget is May 1. According to village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. once a public hearing has been held and the deadline to adopt a budget passes, that spending plan automatically becomes official.
Mr. Thiele added the board could make amendments to the budget. Although money can be moved around within the budget, total expenditures and the tax rate cannot be altered.
The $8.5 million budget represents a 2.86-percent increase over the current 2013-14 spending plan, and will result in a lower tax rate for village residents. For a homeowner with an assessed value of $795,000, village taxes would decrease from $2,249.85 under the current budget to $2,219.64, a decrease of $30.21.
Mayor Gilbride said he tried to schedule a last-minute budget adoption meeting for Tuesday, April 29. Village clerk Beth Kamper reached out to village board members Monday afternoon, but failed to reach enough of them for a quorum and sent out a notice cancelling the session the same afternoon.
Mayor Gilbride left early Wednesday for an out-of-state conference ruling out a session that day.
“I am disappointed,” said Trustee Ed Deyermond Wednesday. “I am not surprised.”
Mr. Deyermond said he had tried to work with Mayor Gilbride on a compromise to provide some funding for the Sag Harbor Fire Department truck reserve and restore some funding to the Chamber of Commerce.
“This is the first year in my memory we are not making a contribution to the truck reserve since it was created,” he said. “And this is for one of our front line pumpers, one of the most active trucks in our rotation which will be up for replacement in just a couple years.”
Mr. Deyermond added trustees had just three hours to respond to an email about the Tuesday budget meeting before it was canceled.
“It is unprecedented and not a collaborative effort,” he said, “but there are some things in this budget that are good. “The village is under the state property tax cap, we are seeing a reduction of the tax rate and there is funding for what will essentially be a paid first responder for the ambulance corps. We also have funding for a 10th police officer where we have been working with nine, so there are some good things in there.”
“I was under the impression we were going to have a meeting,” said Trustee Robby Stein. “I don’t like the idea of the budget being adopted without one. If there is a disagreement, I think it should be worked out in a public session.”
“I went into this process a little naively,” said Trustee Ken O’Donnell Wednesday. “I thought there would be give and take and I think this budget completely lacks that.”
Mr. O’Donnell said he worked with Mayor Gilbride and Chamber President Kelly Dodds on a proposal to find $2,000 for the chamber by reducing the amount of road salt budgeted for the highway department in the budget. With this budget, that proposal is not included.
“I am comfortable with this budget,” said Mayor Gilbride on Wednesday, who conceded that it was the first time in his two decades on the board that a budget vote was not taken. “We worked hard on this. Does everyone get what they want? Absolutely not. And that includes me.”
Mayor Gilbride said he was open to giving the chamber the $2,000, and had planned to budget $30,000 in the fire department’s equipment line that could be transferred to the truck reserve if it wasn’t used this year.
“I attempted to get a meeting together,” he said. “It was short notice, but I did try.”
In other village news, last week the village board accepted the resignation of building inspector Tim Platt. According to Mayor Gilbride, Mr. Platt’s last day will be July 16, and the village is currently looking for a replacement.