Mayor says new tax hike will be slight

Greenport Village residents will get to weigh in next Thursday, April 15, on a proposed $2.89 million general fund budget for 2010-11, up from $2.88 million. The difference covers contractual expenses, Mayor David Nyce said.

“I’m pretty confident it’s a conservative budget, almost an austerity budget,” the mayor said Wednesday.

Mr. Nyce’s spending plan would raise the village tax rate by about 2 percent to $18.18 per $100 of assessed valuation.

The mayor is about to enter into negotiations with village employees, so numbers aren’t firm on salary hikes, he said. But at a time when villagers are struggling through a difficult economy, he’s hoping a deal can be struck that will be fair to both workers and taxpayers, he said.

One major increase in spending is the village’s cost for the Greenport Fire Department’s service award program, which provides a small pension for qualifying volunteers at retirement. Those costs are expected to jump from $165,000 to $231,000, according to the budget draft. As with other pension funds around the country, the stock market collapse affected investments forcing taxpayers to support increased payments for at least the next two years, said the mayor.

Increases in medical and other insurance rates also continue to rise, Mr. Nyce said. Greenport expects to pay $267,000 for employee medical insurance in the next fiscal year, $20,000 more than this year.

A suggested cut in the harbormaster’s services would save the village more than $12,000. The plan is to concentrate the harbormaster’s work during the busy summer months and cut back in the off-season, Mr. Nyce said.

He also calls for a cutback in spending on new projects at village parks and playgrounds, from $70,000 to $49,600. The village undertook major upgrades at the Third and Fifth Street playgrounds and is currently upgrading the Little League fields on Moore’s Lane. No new parks projects are expected in the next fiscal year, with the allocated money planned for maintenance, said the mayor.

There are also proposed changes to budgets in the village’s four enterprise funds, which cover recreation, electric, water and sewers.

The recreation fund budget would jump from $1.32 million to $1.4 million, mostly because of debt payments for the Mitchell Park development and an anticipated increase in labor at the McCann Campground from $16,259 to $44,500.

The electric fund budget would increase from $3.27 million to $3.3 million, largely because of debt service. The water fund budget is projected to drop slightly from $430,100 to $426,600. So, too, is the sewer fund budget, which would go from $1.2 million to $1.1 million

The village’s capital budget will be released at the April 15 hearing. But the only addition to ongoing projects is a planned $200,000 borrowing for bulkheading at Mitchell Park, he said.

The April 15 budget hearing takes place at the Third Street Firehouse at 6 p.m. Copies of the budget are available at Village Hall.

[email protected]