Sag Harbor Village Budget Increases Trimmed to 3-Percent

Posted on 11 March 2014

Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride announced during a budget work session on March 5 that he had trimmed a draft budget for 2014-15 from $8.84 million to $8.59 million.  If approved, the budget would increase spending by 3 percent.

One of the biggest cuts was the removal of $109,915 originally added to the full-time personnel line of the Sag Harbor Village Police Department budget. That figure, according to Mayor Gilbride, was originally put into the budget to cover a 2- or 3-percent increase in full-time salaries should arbitration between the Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association and the village finally result in a contract that is now almost three years past due. On Monday, Mayor Gilbride said he had removed that budget item as a settlement has yet to be reached in arbitration.

Mayor Gilbride did say there is funding within the 2014-15 spending plan to replace a position left vacant with the retirement of officer Hugh Caulfield. Two other officers are facing potential health-related absences from service, but Mayor Gilbride said the village does not yet know how long either officer will be out of service. He was reluctant to discuss whether those positions would be filled with additional hires.

The Sag Harbor Fire Department’s proposed budget was also trimmed back. At the first budget meeting in February, the department requested a 30-percent increase in spending, or $120,173 in additional funding over last year. In the draft budget reviewed by the board last week, $40,000 earmarked for a new vehicle was cut, another $60,000 was removed from the department’s truck reserve, $10,000 was cut from general equipment and $12,500 was taken out of the budget to cover equipment for vehicles and outside repairs.

Trustee Ed Deyermond, a member of the fire department and its liaison on the village board, said he would have to discuss the cuts with department chiefs.

Part-time personnel for the village docks was also cut by $7,000; the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce’s $4,000 was eliminated and another $2,500 was cut from the Ladies Village Improvement Society. The village will continue to provide that organization with $2,500 in funding under the draft plan. Energy conservation in village hall has also been cut from $6,000 to $3,000.

A full-time position for the Sag Harbor Village Ambulance Corps, allowing for a full-time first responder to manage the corps and be available to answers calls, remains in the budget at a project cost of $80,942.

According to village treasurer Eileen Tuohy, the state’s property tax levy cap allows the village to increase the levy by about 2 percent unless the board votes to override that limit. Ms. Tuohy said the village would need to earmark $55,408 of an estimated $1 million fund balance for the 2014-15 budget, as currently proposed, to keep the tax levy increase at 2 percent. If it wanted to limit that increase to only 1.8 percent, without reducing the proposed budget, it would need to allot $65,000 of the fund balance for the budget.

“And if we didn’t want to use any appropriated fund balance we would have to pierce the cap and the tax levy increase would be $166,401, which would be a 3-percent increase in the tax levy,” she said.

Nothing has been earmarked for drainage projects in the village. In January, the village board was given an engineering report from Dvirka and Bartilucci detailing several key drainage projects aimed at combatting flooding after heavy rain falls. The report outlined an estimated $2 million in potential projects for four different trouble areas of the village.

The village does not have a capital budget line, noted Trustee Deyermond last week, wondering where the village would fund drainage improvements.

Mayor Gilbride said public works has some money left over in this year’s budget that would likely expended to increase drainage with two catch basins in Redwood—a $30,000 drainage project recommended in the engineering report.

A public hearing will be held on the draft 2014-15 budget on Wednesday, March 19, at 4 p.m.

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