On Friday, April 16, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees adopted an $8,229,019 spending plan for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, a 2.43 percent increase over this year’s budget with $7,703,690 earmarked to cover the village’s general operating budget and the remaining $525,329 accounting for Sag Harbor’s sewer fund.
The adoption came after board members decided to scrap plans to fund the replacement of 27 self-contained breathing apparatuses and back up air bottles for the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department at a cost of $130,000. The department hopes to replace its entire stock of 54 air packs in the next two years as many are decades old, some hailing from the 1970s. Newer models are more efficient and not as heavy, reducing the burden on firefighters during duty, according to department officials. The total cost of the replacement would come in around $320,000.
The department has applied for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, which will be doled out in the fall and could cover some 80 percent of the cost. Chief Robert Mitchell had hoped the village would budget it a portion of the replacement cost in case the village isn’t awarded the grant monies. Conversely, members of the village board expressed worry that budgeting the expenditure could put the grant at risk, stating they would rather buoy the department’s truck reserve this year, and address the air packs next year should the department not receive the grant.
On Friday, Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said the board had decided to remove the $130,000 originally earmarked for the packs, and has instead added an additional $25,000 to the fire department’s truck reserve, bringing that expenditure up to $50,000.
Sag Harbor Village Trustees said it was a priority to keep spending down for the coming fiscal year, however after mandatory contractual expenses and other non discretionary spending was laid into the budget, the board was forced to cut a number of requests by departments, including an estimated $250,000 to $500,000 for a new fire boat and Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano’s request for an additional police officer. Currently, that department is running with 11 full-time officers, while the State of New York has reported efficiency and oversight in the police department would be better served with 14 full-time officers in the village.
The reduction of the budget leaves the final tax rate at 0.002621. According to Sag Harbor Village Clerk Sandra Schroeder, a house assessed at $795,000 can expect to see a $14.57 increase in village taxes in the next fiscal year.