The Westhampton Beach Village Board adopted its 2015-16 budget, the first of Mayor Maria Moore’s administration, during a special meeting last Wednesday, April 15.
The $9.86 million budget represents a nearly 1.1 percent, or $102,575, increase in spending from the current fiscal year. This bump will likely result in a tax rate increase of 6 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, with a projected tax rate of $3.08.
If this rate holds true, a homeowner whose property is assessed at $800,000 would pay $2,464.88 in village property taxes next year, which would account for an increase of $16 over the current fiscal year. The village’s fiscal year runs from June 1 through May 31.
The Village Board passed the budget unanimously and with no questions or opposition from the audience.
“I am confident that this 2015 tentative budget will allow for financial stability while addressing the village’s operational and infrastructure needs,” Ms. Moore wrote in statement released after the meeting. “I am honored to be your mayor and to have prepared this budget along with the trustees—a budget that will be an investment in the future of our village as our corner of the world continues to grow and attract visitors who embrace its charm and natural beauty.”
The most substantial increase in spending are on the capital projects fund line, which will climb from $3.38 million this year to $3.46 million next year to help cover projects, such as repaving Main Street and improving Glovers Park. The highway department also saw its budget increase by about $95,000, from almost $1.4 million to roughly $1.5 million, to cover the cost of adding new employees and purchasing a new street sweeper.
“I’m very happy,” Public Works Superintendent John Kearns said. “It’s going to be very helpful to the department. We’ve been having a lot of issues with the old street sweeper lately and we’ve had to do a lot of maintenance work on it.
“It’s been good money going to bad, so it’s good that we’re finally replacing it,” he continued, “especially since the [New York State Department of Environmental Conservation] wants us cleaning the storm drain.”
Cuts were made to the village’s election staff budget, which will decrease from $615,000 this year to $465,000 next year, for a savings of $150,000, and the litigation budget, which dropped from $400,000 to $300,000, despite the village’s ongoing dispute with the East End Eruv Association regarding the Jewish religious boundary that was created in Westhampton Beach last summer.
Village Police Chief Trevor Gonce turned in a spending plan that was $6,751 less than the current fiscal year, reducing police and constable spending from $2.28 million to $2.27 million, with the biggest savings coming from police officer salaries, for which the total budget dropped from $1.67 million to $1.61 million, year over year.
Despite the drop, Chief Gonce set aside roughly $54,000 to hire a new officer. He also budgeted $55,000 for a police operations aide, the position he and the board decided upon as a substitute for the police commissioner that the board had suggested hiring earlier this year. That position’s salary is separate from the officer salaries line.