Supervisor’s proposed $52 million budget would fund capital projects, police hires

Several million dollars have been allocated for staffing and infrastructure in a tentative budget proposal Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell outlined to the Town Board Tuesday. 

The total budget appropriation comes to just under $52 million, Mr. Russell said. That number represents a nearly $2.8 million increase from appropriated funds for 2021, resulting in a tax rate increase of 2.49%. 

Mr. Russell noted at work session that the increase is still “well within” the property tax cap. “Our revenues have gone up a little bit … some revenues have gone down,” Mr. Russell said. “Obviously the issue of the COVID pandemic is going to be part of the fiscal landscape for a little while now, but I think on the whole, financially, we’re doing quite well.”

About $1.6 million was put aside for highway resurfacing and $500,000 for installation and upgrades to sidewalks and park amenities. Mr. Russell noted that usually the town allocates about $1 million annually for highway resurfacing, but last year — because New York State cut aid by 20% — only about $872,000 was put aside.

Mr. Russell allocated another $1 million for stormwater and flood mitigation, with those funds split between materials to expand drainage systems and a new vacuum truck. A separate allocation was made to hire three new highway staffers in April, which should allow the department to establish a crew dedicated mostly to flooding and stormwater mitigation. 

Mr. Russell said the hiring delay is to give the Town Board time to develop a stormwater and flood mitigation plan with the new highway superintendent. 

Money was also put aside to bolster the ranks of the Southold Police Department — replacing two retired officers in addition to hiring two new ones. Mr. Russell noted the new personnel should allow Southold police to assign an officer to the East End Drug Task Force.

About $200,000 was allocated for consultations and professional services “to continue the comprehensive master plan,” with an emphasis on land use and new zoning. 

Mr. Russell said he plans to conduct a “thorough review” of budgets with each department head.