Residents in the Village of Sag Harbor will see a slight tax rate decrease this year – from .002605 to .002602 – although during a Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting last Friday, Mayor Greg Ferraris warned board members this kind of budget would not be sustainable in years to come.
On Friday, April 3 trustees unanimously adopted the total $8,091,169 spending plan, $7,523,715 of which is the operating budget for the village’s 2009-2010 fiscal year. The remaining $567,454 makes up the village sewer fund.
According to Ferraris, the average homeowner will see a $3 to $4 decrease in their taxes as a result.
Â The budget was adopted in front of a handful of people – department heads, press and a lone village resident, Larry Perrine, who serves as a member of the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board. Trustee Tiffany Scarlato noted in an election year that is predicted to have the first contested mayoral and trustee races in years, she found it “curious” that more members of the public, especially those interested in having a hand in government, failed to attend the work session.
Unlike Scarlato, on Monday Ferraris said the lack of interest in the budget process was not surprising, although disappointing given the current economic climate.
“In the past six years in preparing the budget I can count on one hand the number of members of the public who have attended the budget hearings and have commented,” he said. “I would hope that in these times the public would be interested and vocal in this matter.”
The dire economic climate was a theme of discussion during the board work session.
“I think what we tried to do here from the beginning was limit spending,” said Ferraris, crediting department heads across the board for making appropriate cuts to enable the tax rate decrease.
“You’re the ones who really did it,” said Ferraris, joking the village does not have a reserve bank it can seek “half a trillion dollars” from in economic stimulus.
“I think we all realize that we are taxpayers too … I think we all have a vested interest in how we do things here,” he added.
“This is the end of an effort by a lot of people going into a tough year to attempt to hold the line and provide the same services and hope things get better,” said Gilbride.Â
However, Ferraris noted that this kind of budget is not one sustainable in the future, and said the trustees will have a difficult task assembling next year’s budget
“What’s going to happen next year,” wondered Perrine from the audience.
“That remains to be seen,” replied Ferraris, who said he believes the village has provided a spending plan that will cover costs, without having to dip into its “healthy” reserve fund. While services are being maintained this year, he said, they will by no means be enhanced in an effort to control spending during difficult financial times.
“I think public service on a whole, on all levels, should be reduced,” offered Ferraris. “Spending on all government levels should be reduced.”