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Town’s 2021 budget won’t pierce tax cap as originally projected

The Southold Town Board Wednesday adopted a proposed budget for 2021 that won’t pierce the tax cap as originally projected.

The unanimous vote came following two public hearings that drew no public comments besides one from deputy supervisor Jill Doherty, who thanked the supervisor and accounting officials for their work on the budget.

“This year was especially hard with covid hitting and the lack of funds that we got,” she said. “You got creative and made it work and I appreciate it.”

Officials have proposed a $49 million budget that maintains current funding levels for vital projects, including stormwater mitigation and sidewalk repairs, and sustains current funding for the town’s police department. Several requests for capital projects, promotions and other increases were left out of the spending plan, a necessary move in the face of cuts to state and county funding, supervisor Scott Russell said during an October budget presentation.

He had originally budgeted for a 3.1% increase that exceeds the state’s tax cap calculation but said Wednesday that rate increase is now 3.09%.

Mr. Russell explained that while many people think the 2% tax cap means taxes cannot be raised above that level, the calculation is based on a series of other factors, including the yearly levy-to-levy increase.

“Although our actual spending is more than what tax cap allowed from year to year, our overall tax levy will be under the cap,” town comptroller Kristie Hansen-Hightower said at an Oct. 20 work session, due to what’s known as tax certs that bring the tax rate down by about $500,000.

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