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Tentative budget calls for Greenport taxes, spending to drop

Spending and taxes are down in the tentative Greenport Village budget filed Monday by Mayor George Hubbard Jr.

The mayor’s budget calls for a 1.08 percent tax rate decrease and a less than one percent decrease in the tax levy.

The $900 tax levy decrease, which refers to the total amount of taxes collected, complies with the state’s 2 percent tax levy cap when various exemptions to that law are factored in, according to village officials. The $989,100 tax levy for 2016-17 could have gone as high as $1,057,504 and still complied with the tax cap, officials said.

The tax rate is the tax levy divided by the property assessment and is used to determine individual tax bills.

For example, the 2016-17 village tax bill for property assessed at $3,500 — which equals to a market value of $318,000 — would be about $697. That figure would be about $8 lower than the current year’s bill.

Village residents also pay Southold Town tax for services like police and assessors that the village doesn’t provide. The current town tax rate for village residents would amount to another $774 in taxes for a property assessed at $3,500, according to town figures.

The mayor’s tentative budget would reduce spending from $10,132,450 in the 2015-16 budget to $10,110,256 for 2016-17.

The Village Board will hold a public hearing on the tentative budget Thursday, April 14, at 6 p.m. in the Old Schoolhouse on Front Street.

By state law, the Village Board must adopt a final budget no later than May 1.

New positions in budget plan

Mr. Hubbard said his proposed budget includes hiring a senior building inspector who will head the building department. That person will be a unionized civil service employee. Current building inspector Eileen Wingate, whose civil service title is community development director, will serve under whoever is hired for that new position, Mr. Hubbard said.

“It’s not a demotion to her, she’s staying in there, but this is going to be someone that’s above her and would oversee the whole building department,” Mr. Hubbard said at last week’s village board work session.

The tentative budget includes a $65,000 salary for the senior building inspector position. It will be a six-month probationary position, according to the mayor.

Ms. Wingate has been the subject of some controversy recently, as several speakers at village meetings have criticized the running of the building department over the past few years. Mr. Hubbard said in an interview, however, that the new position is not a reaction to that. He said former village administrator Dave Abatelli, who retired, used to oversee the building department and the board never filled his position.

Trustee Doug Roberts asked the mayor why the proposed position was a union job rather than an appointment, such as deputy to the village administrator. Mr. Hubbard said the village already has a position like that.

He also said the building department has been getting busier.

“I think a lot of problems we had is just the structuring of the way things used to be,” the mayor said. “I just want to try and put structure in the whole department.”

The mayor is also proposing a full-time “clerk of boards” who will work two days per week with various village boards to prepare their agendas and set up meetings and will three days per week scanning and digitizing village documents.

The salary for that position hasn’t been determined. The Village Board would first need to authorize creating the position, Mr. Hubbard said.

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