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Nov 20, 2018 1:42 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Board Adopts $102.7 Million Budget For 2019 On Tuesday

Nov 27, 2018 11:50 AM

The Southampton Town Board adopted a $102.7 million budget for 2019 on November 20, bumping up spending by approximately $3 million, or roughly 3.3 percent, from the current year’s totals.

In a 4-1 vote, with only Councilwoman Christine Scalera dissenting, the Town Board approved its first-ever nine-digit spending plan, which includes proposed salary increases for town officials.

Ms. Scalera said on Monday that a couple of factors weighed into her voting against the budget—the main one being that the tax levy—the total amount collected via property taxes—is the highest it has been in a decade, even as the tax rate is set to decline in 2019. The town collected $53.2 million from taxpayers in 2009; in 2015, it levied $57.5 million; and in 2019, the town plans to levy $67.2 million.

“That’s a huge jump,” Ms. Scalera said. “To me, it’s not sustainable. It’s going to be a problem.”

The budget factors in a number of spending increases, including salary bumps for top officials.

Mr. Schneiderman is slated to receive $119,490 next year, compared to the $117,147 he made this year, a 2 percent increase, and all four Town Board members are expected to make $67,111 next year. Additionally, both Town Clerk Sundy Schermeyer and Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor will make $113,655.

The $102.7 million spending plan also supports numerous capital improvement projects across the town, including the redesign of the Ponquogue Beach Pavilion, the addition of permanent bathrooms at Good Ground Park, and the replacement of an aging heating and ventilation system at Town Hall, according to a press release by Southampton Town’s director of communications, Connie Conway.

Along with capital improvement projects, the budget also allows for the hiring of a full-time police officer, at a salary of $45,859; a Parks Department administrative assistant, at a salary of $57,512; a full-time assistant in the assessor’s office, who will start at $38,218 per year; and an assistant town engineer, who will earn a salary of $100,134.

However, even with the spending increase, the town’s tax rate is expected to decrease from $1.39 per $1,000 of assessed value to $1.38 per $1,000, a decrease of roughly 1 percent, according to Town Comptroller Leonard Marchese. Homeowners with homes assessed at $500,000 can expect to pay $690 in taxes next year—a $5 decrease from the current year.

Since the budget was first presented in October, Mr. Schneiderman has boasted that over the past three years, since he was elected supervisor, the town’s property tax rate has continued to decrease.

“I think we’re living within our means, and we have a town with growing needs and expectations,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “We have infrastructure to maintain and an environment to steward. I think this budget will allow the town to meet those expectations.”

Staff writer Greg Wehner contributed to this story.

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Wouldn't it be great if Councilwoman Christine Scalera took a successful run at the top spot next time around?

And got at least one fellow GOP or independent Town Board member to serve with her!




By Frank Wheeler (1805), Northampton on Nov 20, 18 3:25 PM
Sure would! Thank you Ms. Scalera!
By Roughrider28 (74), southampton on Nov 20, 18 7:26 PM
1 member liked this comment
Town of Southampton property taxes are very low compared to other areas of Suffolk and Nasau.
By Aeshtron (222), Southampton on Nov 20, 18 4:50 PM
Supervisor Schneiderman increased the tax collection by over $7 million in the 3 years he has been in office. I don't know how anyone can look at all the unfinished Town projects and lack of services i.e. garbage pick up and not wonder where the $100 million goes. It doesn't matter if taxes are higher elsewhere. Thank you Councilperson Scalera for trying 3 years in a row to stop the runaway spending.
By G.A.Lombardi (301), Hampton Bays on Nov 20, 18 5:05 PM
2 members liked this comment
Regardless, compared to Crook... I mean Brookhhaven and west the tax base Out East is quite fortunate, no?
By Mr. Z (10705), North Sea on Nov 20, 18 8:47 PM
Depending what you mean about "out east". Hampton Bays has the lowest property values in "the hamptons" and the highest tax rate when you add in the special districts and the school. So the people that can least afford the taxes pay the most. COLA went up 1/2 of what the taxes went up so some seniors needed to choose between food and their taxes to pay the unsustainable municipal budgets.
By G.A.Lombardi (301), Hampton Bays on Nov 21, 18 7:39 AM
Unfortunately you hit it on the head- it's not the municipal taxes, it's the school taxes that are hurting people.
By eagleeye (66), Sag Harbor on Nov 21, 18 8:18 AM
Why every year does there have to be an increase in spending and salaries? How bout decreasing spending and making the size of the govt. smaller Jay?
By icecreamman (415), Southampton on Nov 21, 18 7:31 AM
1 member liked this comment
Jay is a career politician and as such is incapable of reducing spending, while he can claim the tax rate has gone down, nonetheless spending has increased, only a politician can spin that one.
By bigfresh (3909), north sea on Nov 21, 18 7:41 AM
1 member liked this comment
I wish the reporter would have also included in the salaries sections the over $17,000 the comptroller is receiving this year. Maybe someone should start looking at the inflated salaries of the top 1% of the towns staff. Also has anyone every questioned this “longevity” the non union staff has been receiving, we are getting scammed paying for people’s salaries for their work in other municipalities, maybe start looking there to see where all of our money is going.
By hamptonslocal (2), Westhampton on Nov 21, 18 7:55 AM
1 member liked this comment
And thank you councilwoman Scalera, it cant be easy being the lone voice of reason on this board.
By hamptonslocal (2), Westhampton on Nov 21, 18 7:59 AM
How about not dealing with any unions and hiring and paying each employee based on what their skillset pays in the private sector? That should save some of OUR money.
By bigfresh (3909), north sea on Nov 21, 18 8:01 AM
I can never understand why people keep supporting higher taxes. Wouldn't you rather put the money in your pocket for retirement, some nights out on the town, vacationing, or contributing to charities? Can someone explain that to me. Especially when the majority of the school tax increases go to the health and retirement benefits of others. Wouldn't you rather spend it on yourself? Yes, yes, I know its expensive living out here. Teachers deserve a good wage yet there is no metric to match their skill ...more
By realistic (462), westhampton on Nov 21, 18 8:46 AM
3 members liked this comment
@ realistic -- What test score of the east end schools are abysmal?

The nationwide average for the SAT's is 1050-1060, the NYS average is 1052, Bridgehampton 1038, East Hampton 1071, Sag Harbor 1144 and Southampton 1060.

You and I touched on this topic on the morning of Nov 1st in the "Zeldin, Gershon Parry..." thread. I did a bit more research about your claim that Southampton Schools ranked 212th in NYS. Southampton High School was ranked 212 out of 933 best public high schools ...more
By Aeshtron (222), Southampton on Nov 21, 18 10:44 AM
1 member liked this comment
Aeshton- with the money spend on education the test scores should be equal to such districts of Jericho or Great Neck. Give me a reason why we spend twice as much with similar results?
By realistic (462), westhampton on Nov 21, 18 11:41 AM
1 member liked this comment
@ realistic -- According to Newsday, Southampton spent $36,301 per pupil in 2016, Jericho spent $34,892 and Great Neck spent $31,032. By what measurements do East End Schools spend twice as much as comparable public schools? What test scores are lower on the East End? Might there be a number of factors which school districts have little control over that influence test scores in addition to education spending? How do you feel about six figure pensions for retired emergency responders?

Happy ...more
By Aeshtron (222), Southampton on Nov 21, 18 1:25 PM
Aeshtron. I was using your statistics from the prior article you mentioned whereby Nationally it was half. Other LI schools pay as much per student (and yes some more) that get better results. I do admit the east end area doesn't have the same parent make up that put more emphasis on education. As my teacher friend in Jericho says- parents get upset when their kids don't do well on tests and practically demand the teachers perform teach better. Out here it seems its more about the sports yet I ...more
By realistic (462), westhampton on Nov 21, 18 5:21 PM
The municipal and school budgets are unsustainable. They are destroying the middle class of Long Island. There are many 6 figure administrators with close to six figure projected pensions. Private sector did away with defined benefit plans decades ago since they were unsustainable and the only "defined benefits plans" that small business owners know is what they save from their 16 hour 7 day a week jobs. Now everyone is working two jobs to pay for the administrators pensions.
By G.A.Lombardi (301), Hampton Bays on Nov 21, 18 9:48 AM
1 member liked this comment
GA is correct. One recently retired school teach in WHB has retirement income of $107,000. The WHB Trustee has retirement income of $114,000 as a Montauk School teacher. All public info. We will be supporting these individuals for decades. A regular person would need millions in the bank for similar incomes at bank rates. Unsustainable.
By realistic (462), westhampton on Nov 21, 18 11:39 AM
There are several independent research studies on this issue. It is disguised in the Town of Southampton due to the wealthy second home owners. If full-time residents were paying the taxes, we would be on the verge of bankruptcy and wonder how we were going to keep the streetlights on like Detroit. The leadership wants to do nothing about it - they have their piece of the pie and let the rest of us eat the crumbs.
By G.A.Lombardi (301), Hampton Bays on Nov 21, 18 1:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
Reduce taxes by half:
1) eliminate the payment of health insurance for police, fire, teachers, school admins & janitorial workers, town employees. Let's all pay equally into the expenses of the State owned Southampton Hospital system. Your union can work out rates directly with the local healthcare providers.
2) eliminate vanity projects such as "low income housing" department at Town level. Also the commercial boat owners can pay for the upkeep of their own dock.
3) create extremely ...more
By dfree (587), hampton bays on Nov 22, 18 8:10 AM
2 members liked this comment
1) eliminate the payment of health insurance for all town employees and let them pay their own way
2) Agreed
3) disagree wholeheartedly! One tax rate for all, leave out the alt left class envy.
4) Disagree, the pensions have been earned.
5) Disagree , perhaps paying property taxes based on the value of the land.
By bigfresh (3909), north sea on Nov 24, 18 2:31 PM
When I was in search of employment, the benefits package was a big factor when making a final choice.

Since employer-provided coverage is the most common form of health insurance, I suspect that we'll lose out on at least some candidates who see it as a necessity.

I don't suspect you're suggesting that we make up for the lack of health coverage in another part of the compensation package, but please let me know if I'm wrong.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (4787), HAMPTON BAYS on Nov 24, 18 4:17 PM
Yes, that would be the best way to wean our public employees -- all of them -- off the embedded cost of health insurance which is about 20% of the budget of the schools and probably higher in the Town budget.

Offer a one time 10% rise in base salary in the next negotiation but couple that with a 0% coverage of healthcare going forward, and make the healthcare pension portion dependent on local provisioning -- otherwise the future pensioner can enjoy their Medicare coverage along with ...more
By dfree (587), hampton bays on Nov 25, 18 8:39 AM
I think the biggest issue as fbhbg indicated is the "employment package" which extends decades after someone retires. I am old enough to now say "back in the day" and back in the day,municipal and school employees made less than private sector knowing they had a carrot at the end. Now the higher level municipal and school employees are making the same or more than private sector and private sector needs to save for retirement and pay for medical and fund unsustainable municipal and school "employment ...more
By G.A.Lombardi (301), Hampton Bays on Nov 25, 18 9:24 AM
If Hampton Bays allowed homes on Dune Rd the tax base would increase dramatically as would the property values of the town as a whole.

Just saying...
By joe hampton (3230), The Hamptons on Nov 22, 18 9:56 AM
Happy Thanksgiving to you too Joe Hampton.

Let's turn the old Southampton Hospital into low income and Section 8 housing for the indigent and undocumented homeless. We can move the inhabitants of the Cove Motel there to kick it off right.
Just saying.
By dfree (587), hampton bays on Nov 22, 18 3:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
dfree and Lombardi : You two are right on and keep on with your words of wisdom. Hampton Bays pays to educate the children of the trade parade workers. We should have one school district in the Town of Southampton to even things out.
By P. Revere (102), hampton Bays on Nov 22, 18 7:04 PM
One school/one tax district is the only way to solve the inequity of the school district taxes in the Town of Southampton. The second is decrease the number of administrators. The "loaded" salaries would decrease the budget by millions across the districts. Sorry Joe, I am pro-development for the most part, but a few mansions on Dune Road won't solve the problem. Maybe if they didn't close the nightclubs on Dune Road, the vitality of the hamlet.
Nov 23, 18 9:36 AM appended by G.A.Lombardi
vitality of the Hamlet would have been saved.
By G.A.Lombardi (301), Hampton Bays on Nov 23, 18 9:36 AM
gurney's, new year's eve, celebration, montauk