Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell released his proposed $41.6 million 2014 budget Monday — a plan that includes a 1 percent spending increase over the current year and would result in a 1.17 percent tax hike.
The budget calls for $23 million to be raised through taxes.
In his budget statement, Mr. Russell called the preparation of the spending plan a challenge at a time when revenues continue to decrease and operating costs to increase. He pointed to fuel, health care and retirement costs as key areas where expenses will continue to rise in 2014.
“Developing a budget that continues to meet the needs of this community presents a real challenge,” the supervisor said in his statement. “However, I firmly believe that these challenges can be met and will be met.
“The budget I am presenting continues on a path of sound fiscal policy,” he said.
Mr. Russell’s proposal, which Town Board members will now review and amend, if they so choose, features the use of $2.4 million in reserves to balance the budget, down from $2.7 million in the current year. The town would be left with $3.8 million in its fund balance, Mr. Russell said.
The supervisor noted in his statement that — at just over 12 percent — the spending plan will again exceed the Town Board’s adopted policy of maintaining a fund balance within 10 percent of general fund appropriations.
The budget also includes $75,000 in deer eradication expenses, Mr. Russell noted. He said at a forum last week that he would be asking the board to commit $25,000 of that to a plan being organized by the Long Island Farm Bureau to use U.S. Department of Agriculture sharpshooters to help cull the herd.
“The balance will sit in account until we can develop an integrated approach for deer eradication,” he said.
A portion of the remaining $50,000 might be used to reimburse hunters for their expenses, he said.
“I look forward to working with the Town Board as they review this budget,” the supervisor said in his statement. “I am confident that this board will continue its practice of developing a budget that is straightforward, honest and adheres to the sound fiscal principles that we have followed in the past.”