Cutchogue FD meets to trim budget

It was back to the drawing board for Cutchogue Fire District commissioners Tuesday as they met in a closed session to trim their proposed 2011 budget from $1.2 million to $1.15 million before a public meeting Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
The current 2010 budget totals $1.09 million, $160,00 less than the newly revised 2011 proposal.
They reworked the spending plan after an Oct. 19 budget hearing at which taxpayers protested the originally proposed 9.7 percent spending increase.
At their closed meeting, commissioners Tuesday lopped $50,000 off the $100,000 they had planned to put aside in a reserve fund for future contingencies.
Robert Freeman of the New York State Committee on Open Government confirmed Wednesday morning that the commissioners acted illegally in keeping the press and public out of Tuesday’s meeting.
“There is no doubt the meeting should have been open,” he said, citing the provisions of the New York State Open Meeting Law.
The 2011 spending increase will translate to a 3.8 percent hike in taxes to a total bill of $10.47 for a homeowner whose property is valued at $6,000. Under the original budget proposal, the tax bill would have been an average of $26 a year, Commissioner Sanford Friemann said.
“That’s less than three packs of cigarettes,” he said.
The public doesn’t get to vote on the budget, but the commissioners will explain it to taxpayers at Thursday’s meeting, after which they’re expected to adopt it.
Other local districts adopted their budgets at meetings on Oct. 19.
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