By Kathryn G. Menu
The East Hampton Town Board unanimously adopted a $69 million budget for 2013 during a meeting last Thursday, November 15. On Tuesday, November 20, the Southampton Town Board was also adopted Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s $82.7 million spending plan for 2013.
Both towns were required by the state to adopt their 2013 budgets by the close of business on Tuesday.
In East Hampton, the adopted budget – drafted by Supervisor Bill Wilkinson – is up just over five-percent, or $3.3 million, over the 2012 $65.7 million spending plan.
The budget will not pierce a New York State mandated two-percent property tax levy cap, despite about $130,000 being added to the spending plan, primarily to accommodate $40,000 to cover the first phase of a deer management plan that will survey deer throughout East Hampton this winter, the addition of a seasonal code enforcement officer at a cost of about $26,000 and an addition of $25,000 to funding for Project MOST for a total town contribution of $35,000 to the not-for-profit.
For residents living inside the incorporated villages of Sag Harbor and East Hampton, this will still mean yet another year of tax cuts, with the tax rate expected to drop 1.47 percent to $10.96 per $100 of assessed valuation. According to East Hampton Town budget director Len Bernard, this would translate into roughly a $11.50 decrease in town taxes for a home valued at $875,000.
Outside the villages, residents will see a tax increase of 4.7-percent to a total of $27.91 per $100 assessed valuation.
The 2013 budget was Supervisor Wilkinson’s third budget.
In the last three years, the town has been able to absorb over $21 million in deficit financing, while still maintaining tight budgets and tax rates that include the cost for debt service on deficit borrowing.
In Southampton Town, Supervisor Throne-Holst was also successful in passing her $82.7-million 2013 spending plan on Tuesday afternoon.
The $82.7-million represents a zero-percent tax increase over the 2012 Southampton Town budget. Similar to East Hampton Town, the Southampton Town Board will not seek to pierce a state-mandated two-percent property tax cap.
According to the Southampton Town Comptroller’s Office, very little changed within the Supervisor’s budget before it was adopted unanimously by the board. The comptroller’s office added that figures for tax rates would not be available until after press time.
One aspect of the budget that did change was the funding for Bruce Nalepinski’s position as the town’s education and government television channel executive director. During public hearings over the budget earlier this fall, members of the independent SEA-TV advisory committee, appointed by the town board, asked the board to drop a proposed cut in Nalepinski’s salary from $81,000 to $45,000. The budget originally proposed to make Nalepinski’s position part-time in nature.
In the resolution packet adopted before the full 2013 budget, the town board restored Nalepinski’s full-time salary.
According to Councilman Chris Nuzzi, the resolution to restore Nalepinski’s position to full time was a resolution sponsored by himself, and fellow Republicans Christine Scalera and Jim Malone.
Nuzzi said the board also reinstated a town-wide hiring freeze, which has enabled Southampton to reduce spending, and positions (554 town employees to 480), through attrition rather than layoffs.
“I think considering this economic climate that is a feat in itself,” said Nuzzi early Tuesday evening. “This budget puts us in sound financial footing with fund balances and surpluses.”