Preliminary Budget Eyed

Posted on 25 March 2009

By Marissa Maier

The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees and the village department heads rolled up their sleeves last Friday, March 20, and pored over a tentative draft of the village budget for 2009 to 2010 totaling $7.4 million. The meeting was the first in a series the village will hold before finalizing the budget and hosting a public hearing.

Anticipating a budgetary shortfall in fall 2008, Sag Harbor Village Mayor Greg Ferraris asked each department to tighten their belts, avoid expensive and large purchases and “do more with less.”

Village treasurer Eileen Tuohy attributed the $215,000 shortfall to a decrease in non-real property tax revenue. Non-real property tax funds are collected from building permit receipts, dock slip receipts, state aid, and interest from the village savings account, among other sources. With interest rates at their lowest level in years, coupled with a decrease in dock receipts and rising contractual obligations, the village has been forced to economize.

Tuohy hopes continued austerity spending will help the village “break even” in the coming fiscal year. As the trustees analyzed the draft budget line-by-line, Ferraris said, “This is a pretty bare bones budget. We made cuts everywhere we could.”

Some village departments, like the police department and the highway department, are slashing spending through attrition. While Ed Downes, president of the Sag Harbor Ambulance Corps, is holding off on his long term goal of purchasing a third ambulance vehicle, he still must purchase new medical supplies every year.

In the building department, building inspector Tim Platt was able to decrease the overall budget for code enforcement, but said new costs will be incurred because New York State will no longer pay for new code books or training for code personnel. Trustee Tiffany Scarlato said monies paid by the building department for application consultant fees will now be paid out of the planning board and zoning board of appeals budget. In discussing additional costs, Ferraris added that a majority of the police department personnel are at the highest salary step.

Although he commended the departments for their work in paring down the budget, Ferraris said, “If there are items you really need tell us.”

For the fiscal year 2009 to 2010 the projected general fund budget is $7,444,557.68 and the projected tax rate is .002638 percent, although these figures and rates are subject to change. Under the current tax rate of .002605 percent, the owner of a home assessed at $1 million pays approximately $2,605 for village property taxes. If the budget were adopted as it currently stands today, the same homeowner would pay $2,638 in taxes.

“These numbers are subject to change. This is just a preliminary draft and more changes will be made [and presented] this Friday [March 27],” said Tuohy. “[The board] is working very hard to keep [the tax rate] at a very minimal increase.”

Tuohy added that the village fire department still has to present its budget to the board. The next meeting on the tentative budget will be held on Friday, March 27, at 4 p.m. in Sag Harbor Village Hall.

Sagaponack Village Budget

On Monday at Sagaponack Village Hall, the village board of trustees held a work session on their tentative budget, which mayor Don Louchheim presented last week during a regular monthly meeting.

The budget, proposed at $548,809, is just over $4,000 less than last year’s budget, which was $552,873.

A homeowner with a property assessed at $1 million can expect to pay $82.80 in taxes, down from $83.40 last year.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for April 13, at 4 p.m.

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