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Supervisor unveils tentative $48 million budget

A tentative budget for 2020 released by Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell last week calls for a 0.93% increase in spending that will fund several capital projects.

The $48 million budget proposed reflects a $444,910 increase over the adopted 2019 budget and stays well within the tax cap with a 1.62% increase for residents.

For an average Southold taxpayer with an assessed home value of $6,000, that translates to an approximate increase of $35.47, Mr. Russell said.

“Maintaining Southold Town’s economic health is a top priority,” Mr. Russell said in his budget message. “With that in mind, this budget includes the revenue to meet the community’s needs, but does not provide for any unnecessary spending.”

The budget will fund both ongoing and new capital projects, including $1.2 million for the town’s multi-year road resurfacing project.

The supervisor has also proposed a $250,000 capital project to restore sidewalks on Fishers Island and a $500,000 capital project that will install and restore sidewalks in villages and downtown areas.

“This will help fund Southold’s commitment to promote walkable communities,” Mr. Russell said.

He’s also asked the Town Board to consider including $250,000 to continue stormwater mitigation projects across town.

The proposal includes $25,000 for a new vehicle to be used by the Human Resource Center, $160,900 for police vehicles and $363,300 for a new marine patrol boat that will also be partially grant-funded.

The town’s department of public works will also receive $30,000 for a new HVAC system at the recreation center, $7,000 for a basketball court in East Marion and $85,000 for improvements at both Tasker and Cochran parks.

A full-time wildlife manager position will also be created under the proposed budget.

Mr. Russell said Tuesday that the civil service position, which was originally a part-time role, needs to be elevated as the role expands. “The position is not just about reducing the deer population although the town has expanded its program,” he said in an email. “It includes properly managing growing challenges to the environment. The wildlife manager needs to balance the need of ensuring abundant wildlife and mitigate any impacts on our ecosystems by serving a key role in our stewardship management plans for our preserves.”

A hearing on the budget is scheduled for Nov. 6 at 4 p.m.

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