Despite Cuts, Taxes Will Rise In East Hampton

Posted on 09 October 2008

A majority of residents in the Town of East Hampton are looking at an 18-percent tax increase, despite the fact that Supervisor Bill McGintee’s proposed spending plan for $67 million for the 2009 fiscal year represents an almost $8 million drop from the approved 2008 budget of $75 million. Residents in the Village of East Hampton are looking at a 28-percent tax increase should the budget be adopted as is by the town board.

On October 28 at 10:30 a.m. residents will have the opportunity to address the proposed budget at a special town board meeting, said McGintee on Wednesday, although some residents have already shown up at town board meetings this week to voice their concern about the proposed tax increase.

According to McGintee, cuts in the budget enable the town, in the throes of a multi-million dollar deficit, to pay over $7 million in debt service in 2009 – a part of a 10-year plan to repay a state bond to cover the deficit that McGintee said would reach a maximum of $15 million by the close of 2009.

And while spending is down, according to McGintee, anticipated revenues are projected to be down some $16 million, although McGintee noted the number is deceiving as Community Preservation Fund revenues have been removed from the figures.

“The big downturn in revenues is in mortgage taxes,” said McGintee on Wednesday. The budget anticipates the town will receive $1.5 million less in mortgage tax revenues than it did last fiscal year. McGintee acknowledged the downturn in the real estate market given the current economy was the impetus for the projections. 

In an effort to help stem the revenue tide, McGintee has proposed a number of cuts for civic and cultural programs, as well as increased fees for resident services.

For the first time, town residents will be asked to fork over $25 annually for a town beach sticker, with seniors asked to pay $15 each year. Fees are also going up at the town dump where residents will be asked to pay $104 in 2009, as opposed to $79, and seniors will have to pay $74, up from $50, for their town dump sticker.

According to McGintee, just less than $1 million in grants for cultural mainstays in the town were reduced in this year’s budget as another way to reduce spending. Reductions in funding for programs like the East Hampton Day Care and Project Most, an after school program are also proposed.

“Unfortunately, we did have to make cuts, but what we did make sure to hold on to are the costs that cover services to our seniors and nutrition programs,” said McGintee on Wednesday. “In times like this it is important to look out for those who are most vulnerable.”

McGintee noted programs like the drug rehabilitation and counseling service Phoenix House will continue to see funding.

“No one likes to make cuts,” said McGintee. “They are all worthy causes, but look around the nation – look what is happening everywhere.”

The budget also includes a contractual 4.75 percent salary increase for union employees, which is also extended to cover non-union employees including the town board and supervisor positions. McGintee said in the face of a turbulent economy he would not start cutting jobs, with the knowledge those employees would struggle to find work. 

According to McGintee, he believes this will be a one and only large tax increase town residents will see in coming years.

“I am not going to say there will not be increases in the future, but I do not intend to allow what has happened for the last 10 years to continue.”

McGintee said from now on, as long as he was in office, the cost of running government would be reflected in each budget, and not be covered up by using surplus monies to instill a zero percent tax increase.

“I am confident it is a good budget,” said McGintee, who said he hopes that people with legitimate concerns regarding the budget and any proposed cuts do turn out on October 28.

As a part of the deal reached with the state for a bond to cover the town’s deficit, the town’s finances will be overseen by the state comptroller, who McGintee said would review the 2009 budget. Copies of the budget are available for review in the town clerk’s office.

In other news, the town board approved a measure on Friday to take a $15 million loan against future Community Preservation Fund (CPF) revenues in order to ensure money is available for the purchase of properties like the Boys Harbor camp in Springs and the over 70-acre Dick Cavett parcel in Montauk.

The program’s revenues are generated through a two-percent transfer tax on real estate transactions. McGintee stressed it would likely be the last time the town could borrow against CPF revenues as the downturn in the real estate market continues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to “Despite Cuts, Taxes Will Rise In East Hampton”

  1. Suky Cannon says:

    The increase is greater that 18%. You have to add in $25. for the beach sticker & $ 25.00 increase in the dump. That’s an addtional $ 50. What percentage does that add to the bill?
    Also, there should be a freeze for all salary increases, for the non-union employees of the town, which includes the Supervisor and Town Board. The supervisor’s reason for the increase is that ‘it’s the general rule’. Well, that’s all it is, a general rule, not a binding rule.’ These are difficult financial times. Giving raises at this time is lunacy but there’s hardly been any coverage in the paper at all.

  2. Wendy Firman says:

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