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Budget: Lowest Percent Tax Rate Increase in 15 Years Still Pierces Cap

Tentative spending plan for 2014-15 year is unveiled.

Northport Village trustees presented the tentative budget for the 2014-15 year Tuesday, which represents the lowest tax increase in 15 years; however, the spending plan still pierces the tax levy cap. 

The proposed budget for the 2014-15 year is $18,837,596, representing an increase of about $4.7 million from the current year’s spending plan. However, the tax rate for the average Northport Village homeowner will only increase by $1.60 per $100 of assessed value. That is a 2.68 percent tax rate increase from this year’s rate, the lowest since 1999, Deputy Mayor Henry Tobin said. 

While the proposed tax rate increase is the lowest in more than a decade, the budget still exceeds New York State’s 2-percent tax levy cap.  That is partly because once the 2-percent tax levy limit is adjusted for PILOTS, local government functions and exclusions, the capped tax levy increase set for the upcoming fiscal year is 1.7 percent. Northport Village’s tax levy surpasses the capped figure by about $125,000. 

The Village board voted to approve a local law authorizing a property tax levy in excess of the capped limit at its Dec. 17 meeting.

The largest portion of taxpayer money in the budget, if passed as is, will be spent on home and community service, including the sewer system and wastewater treatment plant updates, which represents 24 percent of taxpayer dollars in the proposed budget. Employee benefits also make up a large portion of the budget. Employee benefits are expected to increase by $160,614 in 2014-15. 

The cost of public safety, including the Northport fire and police departments, is expected to increase by about $392,000, representing 18 percent of taxpayer money in the proposed budget. A consultant for the village said that those increases are mainly due to contract increases and rising medical costs due to rate increases.

Trustee Thomas Kehoe, who is the commissioner of commerce and head of police and sanitation, said that the Village renegotiated its contact with the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association last year. He explained that while the contract has been publically criticized, the negotiations would save taxpayers an enormous amount of money over the long term.

Much of those savings, he said come with a 12-step pay increase plan, which lowers the starting salary of officers and spreads out raises over 12 years, so that an officer would not reach top pay until that time. Kehoe said that the new step system saves the village $180,000 for each new officer hired. It also provided for the first health insurance contribution plan for new members, which he said saves an additional $3,000.

In addition, the contract provides an incentive for more senior members to retire, which allows the Village to hire younger patrol officers at a lower cost. After 32 years on the job, an officer’s pension maxes out, making it more attractive for the highest paid members to retire, he said.

There is also a line item change in the budget this year, in which the franchise fees section of the budget, also known as PILOTS, will be rolled into the real property tax budget line.  Deputy Mayor Henry Tobin said that the amount of the fees will not change, but that revenue will now be subject to the tax cap. That change is a contributing factor in the proposed budget’s exceeding of the cap, however the Village board decided to make the switch after it was recommended by the State Comptroller’s office to do so.

A formal public hearing on the 2014-15 Village budget will be held Jan. 14 at 6 p.m. in Village Hall. Budget packets can be picked up in Village Hall, at 224 Main St., Northport.

Jack January 09, 2014 at 11:40 AM
These tax number seem minor but year after year of increases take there toll especially on those you will want to stay in Borthport Village after thy retire. There is little fairness in how many home owners are taxed. Most of us would be amazed at how little many homeowners are paying in property taxes despite having very nice homes, some with water front or water views. I think they should all be published but this info is available on line. This issue is mainly for homes that predate the forst assessments back in the 1930's. The rest if us are actually subsidizing those home owners. Now what happens when LIPA settles with the Town of Huntington and we will all receive incremental increases over 10 years due to the loss in tax revenues that LIPA used to pay.? It is time for every home to be reassessed so everyone is paying their fair share.
flyfishcpa January 09, 2014 at 07:52 PM
Looks like smoke and mirrors to me. 2.68% rate increase and that's a bargain? LOL. What would prefer to pay, 1% of $1,000,000 or 10% of $1,000? The point is don't be fooled by the rate. My opinion is that you need to look at more than a rate. A professor once told a class I attended "Figures never lie, Liars figure." There are some things that can't be changed because they are the result of bad Village negotiating. A 12 year Police contract??? (And by the way, my comments have nothing to do with the great men and women in the Police Department.) The Village can barely see from year to year, and they negotiate a 12 year contract? Where is the Village 5 year Plan/Budget or, less likely, a 10 year Plan/Budget? Non existent ?.... hmmmm. On paper the 12 year Police contract sounds fairly good. The issue is that the assumptions supporting the contract are greatly flawed. If a Police Office makes $120,000 before Overtime and Benefits working 13 days a month, where is the is the incentive to retire to make room for rookies at a lower cost? There isn't any. How many years before there is a total Police Department turnover? Has anyone ever discussed this? In round dollars, The Village pays Police Management (in round dollars before Pension, Benefits and Other Costs) $917,000 to manage 11 Police personnel. If this were your business, would pay that kind of money? Sounds a little top heavy doesn't it. But we pay for it. By the way, it looks as though the Police budget is understated by the cost of Benefits and Pension. An oversight or more smoke... but that has been covered. The "Office" Staff is 8 or so people with computers and such. Remember Dottie Dugan and friends? Three people (thank you Dottie) did the work of 8 WITHOUT computers. What extra do these 8 people do that 3 did before? How does the Village benefit? Well we pay for it. Dock fees -- if we expect to collect $10,000 in fees and it costs $27,000 to collect those fees, why not save the $27,000 and hire someone like a meter maid to check the dock and issue a large fine if a docked boat has not paid the dock fee. In the Port Jeff there are machines in the parking lot and you buy time for the length of time you are parked. Time expired when checked? Fine time. Village, take a lesson. Has anyone developed a plan to reduce Overtime? We have a $17 million budget and only a $160 thousand reserve/surplus?? Doesn't sound right to me. The Park has a reserve of $41 thousand and the Highway has a $1,600 reserve? I guess swings and sprinkler systems are more important than truck replacement and upkeep. You can go on and on.

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