West Hampton Dunes releases budget

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Residents of the Village of West Hampton Dunes can expect their property taxes to decline by about 4 percent next year, primarily because litigation costs in the village have gone down, according to Mayor Gary Vegliante.

The village’s $1.26 million budget for 2008-2009, adopted by a 3-0 vote following a hearing in West Hampton Dunes on Friday night, includes a 2 percent reduction in overall spending. This year’s budget totals $1.28 million.

Trustee Gary Trimarchi was absent from Friday’s meeting and Mr. Vegliante did not vote on the spending plan. The mayor casts his ballot only when a decisive vote is needed.

Mr. Vegliante said that for 2008-2009, the assessed value of the village is $3,729,231. He explained that West Hampton Dunes uses a fractional rate to determine the assessed value, a system that most villages utilize if they conduct their own assessments. For 2007-2008, the assessed value of the village came in at $3,677,729.

Southampton Town, which uses a full-value assessing method, assessed the village at more than $600 million this year.

The village’s assessment data results in a tax rate of 29.5 cents per $100 of assessed value for next year, as opposed to a tax rate of about 30.7 cents per $100 this year, according to Mr. Vegliante. Therefore, a house assessed at $1.5 million would be taxed at about $4,400 next year, or $200 less than the current year.

Mr. Vegliante touted the property tax decrease as a result of a reduction in litigation costs. He said the village’s litigation in federal court over the titles of oceanfront property is nearing a settlement. He could not say the same for the village’s suit with Southampton Town over bayfront property abutting Moriches Bay.

The village is now budgeting $146,000 for litigation expenses, down from the $206,000 it paid last year, a decrease of about $60,000, or 29 percent.

Mr. Vegliante explained that the village doesn’t delineate between litigation costs for the town lawsuit and the federal lawsuit, though he doesn’t anticipate that more than $30,000 will be spent on federal litigation next year.

The line in the budget for total government support also reflects a decrease in spending of about $56,500, from $498,550 this year to $442,050 for the coming year. Mr. Vegliante attributed decreases for government support to a “general contractual legal fee,” and said that the village did not budget as much as it has in the past because of the decrease in cost for the village’s oceanfront lawsuit.

The terms of two trustees in the village, Bob Strecker and George Asem, as well as Mr. Vegliante’s term, will end on June 30. All three officials have served the village since it was created in 1993.

Elections will be held on June 17 and petitions to run will be available at the Village Office, located on Arthur Street in Westhampton, from May 6 to May 13. Candidates need the signatures of 13 registered voters in the village to run.

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