Sag Harbor Village Budget Expected to Increase as Board Debates Department Wish Lists

Posted on 26 February 2010

As Sag Harbor Trustees kick off their budget talks, the village is

looking at an estimated 1.39 percent tax increase over last year’s

$8,091,169 spending plan, $567,454 of which came from the village’s

sewer tax. However, with just one meeting behind them, the board is

considering several capital projects and vehicle purchases that could

push that increase even higher.


Not yet added to the proposed budget are hopes for the creation of a

village justice court, addressing erosion on West Water Street,

improvements to Sag Harbor’s historic Municipal Building, the

purchase of a new fire rescue boat and air packs for the Sag Harbor

Volunteer Fire Department and monies to fund the creation of a public

park between the L/Cpl Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge and

the parcel known as Ferry Road.


On Tuesday, February 23 the board convened its first of several

planned budget meeting, speaking with department heads, village

treasurer Eileen Tuohy and trustees about their hopes for the next

fiscal year.


“Health insurance costs have gone up as they have everywhere else,”

said Touhy. “Other than that everything is pretty level with what was

spent last year.”


Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said a priority this year will be to

budget monies to deal with erosion on West Water Street, where the

beachfront adjacent to the street loses more and more ground with

each storm.


Language exists in village approval for luxury condos on West Water

Street that discusses that developer’s role in the design and

implementation of a waterfront walkway across the street from the

site, where the erosion is occurring. However, the New York

Department of Environmental Conservation balked at any plan that

would disrupt the wetlands, preferring any walkway be constructed on

the streetscape, requiring re-engineering of the roadway, and a

possible loss of parking spaces.


On Tuesday, Gilbride said he was unsure what course of action the

village would take, but said at the very least it needs to

immediately address the eroding beachfront, while examining a long

range capital plan for the area.


Secondly, he said he would like to see old plans for a park next to

the village bridge revitalized, although costs for that project are

not expected to be unveiled until the board’s next budget meeting on

March 12 at 4 p.m.


Trustees are also considering a Sag Harbor justice court, a move

strongly supported by village police chief Tom Fabiano. According to

Gilbride, the estimated $100,000 needed to kick off that venture has

yet to be factored into the next budget and more solid figures will

be available at next month’s meeting.


Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department Chief Robert Mitchell requested

some of the largest departmental expenditures of the evening, seeking

monies to replace the department’s 53 air packs, which may cost

between $320,000 and $390,000.


“All the departments around us have been getting updated packs and we

have been using their orphans,” said Mitchell of his department.

While they had sought a grant to cover the cost, Mitchell said they

have yet to hear a response.


Mitchell noted they also have had issues with their fire rescue boat,

purchased in 1994, which has stress cracks, is water logged and needs

to have its engine replaced this summer. That, said Mitchell, could

cost anywhere from $150,000 to $500,000. The vessel is mainly used

for rescue operations, in the event of boat fires and other

waterfront areas fire department vehicles cannot reach and is used by

the dive team. After the meeting, Gilbride said he would look at

capital reserves to see what the village could afford to spend on the

new boat.


In the police department, Chief Fabiano said he tried to keep his

budget in line with last year’s spending plan. In what he has already

submitted to the village, the chief is asking for another full time

officer as well as a vehicle. Sag Harbor also needs to add live scan

technology to its police department, which allows for digital

fingerprinting, although Fabiano said the county and the state will

cover a majority of the cost, except for about $900 a year in

maintenance.


The Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps also needs a new vehicle,

but due to its reserve fund, the expense will not affect the village

budget. According to President Eddie Downes, he does need to replace

a first responder vehicle, but will be able to do so through the

department’s $144,000 reserve fund. The vehicle will cost roughly

$42,000 and the reserve fund will be replenished by any sale of the

old first responder.


Superintendent of Public Works Jim Early said his only major

equipment replacement would be a chipper, for $27,000. The current

one, he said, is so old parts are not available to repair it. Harbor

Master Bob Bori added he needs about $10,000 to repair Long Wharf and

the village’s B and transient docks.


“Every year since I have been here I would love to do something

here,” said Gilbride of the Municipal Building, which has empty third

and fourth floors that are not weight bearing or handicap accessible.

Early said the exterior of the building is also in need of repair.


As for Havens Beach, for which the village is exploring a remediation

plan, trustees said they felt a final plan may be a budget year off

and said they would wait for final testing results before choosing a

course of action.

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