By Kathryn G. Menu
The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees received a draft budget for 2014-15 at its first budget work session on February 19, with department heads requesting an overall 7-percent spending increase over last year. On Tuesday, Mayor Brian Gilbride said he would like to see the spending increase reduced to less than 1.48 percent before the budget is adopted in order to ensure it falls below a state-mandated 2-percent property tax levy cap.
With all department wish lists factored into the first draft, the 2014-15 budget proposed $8.84 million in spending, an increase of $580,170 over the $8.78 million budget adopted last year.
One of the biggest increases proposed would be for the Sag Harbor Ambulance Corps, which is requesting $80,942 for an ambulance administrator, which Mayor Gilbride said Tuesday would essentially be a paid first responder position for the currently all-volunteer emergency service provider. Mayor Gilbride said he was not opposed to the concept, particularly given the demographics of Sag Harbor.
“These guys are doing a lot of runs, there is a lot going on and their calls are just increasing,” he said. “I would say there is a willingness on my part to make this happen. We have an older population now.”
There is also an ambulance line item for $45,724 for radio dispatch services. In total, the ambulance budget is proposed to increase from $223,725 to $387,484, a 51-percent increase in spending.
The Sag Harbor Fire Department’s budget also shows a spending increase of $120,173, which is 30 percent over last year. The majority of that is $70,000 the department is paying back to the village’s general fund to cover the cost of replacing 17 of the department’s 60 air packs. An additional $7,000 is requested for 2014-15 to be placed in an air pack reserve account to cover the cost of replacing that equipment in the future. Workers’ compensation and disability insurance is also expected to increase, by $8,455, and the department is also requesting an additional $10,000 for equipment over last year’s approved $30,000 earmark for equipment.
Village treasurer Eileen Tuohy said that expenses related to the fire department and ambulance corps are not funded solely by the village, but throughout the fire district which includes unincorporated portions of East Hampton, Noyac, Bay Point and North Haven Village.
The Sag Harbor Village Police Department’s budget requests an additional $109,915 in full-time personnel expenses, although the department’s part-time personnel budget would decline by $800 from the 2013-14 budget. Last year, $51,400 was approved for part-time personnel with $28,035 spent to date in a budget that must see the department through June.
An increase of $2,000 to $5,000 is also projected for false arrest insurance, and radio dispatch service expenses are expected to climb from $49,348 to $51,321.
The village’s Harbors and Docks department is requesting a $10,000, or 5-percent, increase over its 2013-14 budget of $220,700, primarily to increase part-time personnel and also to cover the cost of charge card fees. The highway department has asked for a 7-percent increase, from $503,955 to $537,486. That includes an increase of $14,181 for full-time personnel, $10,000 for part-time personnel, and an additional $10,000 for snow removal supplies.
During last Wednesday’s meeting, Mayor Gilbride said he would like to see drainage improvements, in particular catch basins for drainage improvements considered a priority for 2014-15. He added that he would like to see a septic system rebate program considered for waterfront homes in Sag Harbor, similar to a successful initiative launched in Southampton Town.
“Other than that I will start to work on this tonight and try and get it closer to a 1 percent increase,” he said. “And that is that. It is going to mean moving some money around the budget.”
On Tuesday, he added making improvements and repairs to Long Wharf.
“And I try to get an elevator in this building [the Municipal Building] year after year,” he added.
“But at the next meeting, I think we are going to have a clearer picture,” said Mayor Gilbride, adding he plans to sit down with department heads over the course of the next week.
The next budget work session will be held on Wednesday, March 5, at 4 p.m.