May 17, 2006
East Hampton Village: Bennies, Boys In Blue Boost Budget
Once again, the rising cost of employee benefits is to blame for an increased budget, Mayor Paul Rickenbach reported as he released his 2006-2007 tentative budget.
|Independent / Courtesy East Hampton Village
The graph above depicts tax rate increases over the last six years in East Hampton Village. (click for larger version)|
If adopted as presented, residents in East Hampton Village will see their tax rate increase by 4.96%. The trend over the past six years has been an average increase of 4.37 %, according to Rickenbach's budget message.
A total spending plan of $15,492,464 is up by $1.12 million, seven percent over last year. Increasing employee benefits, including medical, expanded pensions for firefighters, worker's comp and Social Security account for close to $400,000 worth of increases.
More police and a $220,000 allocation for emergency communications add $540,000 to the plan. Currently the village is under contract to provide emergency communication services
to Springs, Amagansett, Montauk, Bridge-hampton, and Sag Harbor. When those contracts expire, the Mayor predicted, village officials will make adjustments to reflect increased costs, meaning the districts will be asked to pay more.
As with most municipalities — and homeowners for that matter — the soaring costs of energy has put a dent in the peoples' purse. Rickenbach added an extra $65,000 to next year's budget to cover utilities, gasoline, and diesel fuel.
Orders from the County Department of Health to operate Two Mile Hollow as a bathing beach will mean an extra $65,000, the lion's share of which, $46,250, goes to staff salaries. The capital project "to-do" list includes $400,000 worth of improvements to the North Main Street
parking lot, $150,000 in road improvements, $100,000 for work at Herrick Park, and $155,000 for new leaf cleaning equipment.
The mayor expects non-tax revenue to increase by $429,000. Building and parking permit fees are estimated to go up by $50,000.
The budget includes a $2500 raise for the mayor, moving his annual salary from $17,500 to $20,000. Village board members will split a $6000 increase in the salary line among the foursome, bringing the budget line from $34,000 to $40,000. Village administrator Larry Cantwell will collect $145,788, and Police Chief Jerry Larsen will be paid $154,508.22.
Of the total $15-plus million budget, public safety expenses — police, fire prevention, code enforcement and dog control, among others — total up to over $5.6 million.
A public hearing on the budget will be held in the coming weeks.