By Kathryn G. Menu
The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees unveiled a tentative budget on March 19, highlighted by $91,040 in cuts made from a previous draft of the 2014-15 spending plan, primarily through the reduction of full-time salary increases across several departments.
What was originally an $8.59 million budget was cut between March 5 and March 19. Personnel cuts were made in the justice court’s budget, which was reduced by $7,610; the village treasurer’s budget was cut by $1,680; the clerk’s full-time personnel costs were cut by $1,050; central garage personnel was cut by $2,747; custodial personnel was cut by $5,305; and highway department personnel was cut by $14,181.
A line item for a proposed administrator for the Sag Harbor Ambulance Corps, originally budgeted to cost $80,942 next year, was reduced by $17,442 to $63,500, which, according to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, accounts for salary and benefit expenses associated with the position.
During last Wednesday’s meeting, Trustee Ed Deyermond asked about dock repairs in the village. That line item under Harbors & Docks was cut by $10,000 to $50,000 for the next fiscal year. Mr. Deyermond said that repairs would be necessary, not just for Long Wharf, but for all of the village’s docks including those at Marine Park. The village board is currently awaiting an engineering report on what repairs are necessary on Long Wharf. It has debated whether or not to tackle those repairs piecemeal or to bond for what will likely be a project that costs several thousand dollars.
Trustee Deyermond also raised concerns about the fire department’s truck reserve not being adequately funded. The fire department’s $401,406 budget does not include any money for the reserve account, which the department uses to purchase vehicles.
“We always put something in that account,” said Trustee Deyermond, adding the reserve has about $174,000 remaining, but the department is on schedule to purchase a new pumper in 2017. Without adding to the reserve annually, it will not have the funding to pay for that new vehicle.
“We have been down this road for many, many years and I think we have to plan for the future,” Mr. Deyermond said.
Mayor Gilbride said he would like to see a full assessment of the fire department’s vehicles made by an outside agency.
Trustee Deyermond replied that he had no issue with a needs assessment, but did want to make sure the truck reserve had adequate funding.
“I don’t see, especially with the tax cap we are all trying to stay under, us coming up with a big chunk of money two or three years down the road,” he said.
Kelly Dodds, president of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce, also approached the board, asking it to reinstate some of the chamber’s $4,000 in funding, cut completely out of the 2014-15 spending plan.
That funding, she noted, helps the chamber pay the $11,000 annually it spends to staff the windmill at Long Wharf, which had 9,000 visitors this year all looking for information on Sag Harbor and the East End.
Mayor Gilbride questioned the money the chamber raises in arts and crafts festivals and HarborFest, noting it charges people who have booths at both events.
The Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit entity, noted Ms. Dodds.
“Our events are meant to break even,” she said. “The money we make from those events goes into publicizing those events, paying for insurance. We have the lowest membership rates on the East End.”
Ms. Dodds asked the board to reconsider.
On Tuesday, Mayor Gilbride said he expected little would change before the budget is considered for adoption, on Wednesday, April 2, at 4 p.m.