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Wilkinson Presents $69.96 Million Budget, His Final in Office

Proposed budget stays under tax levy cap.

Supervisor Bill Wilkinson Credit: Taylor K. Vecsey
Supervisor Bill Wilkinson Credit: Taylor K. Vecsey
This week, East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson offered his fourth, and what will be his final budget before he leaves office, laying out a $69.96 million budget for the next administration in 2014.

The town board will discuss the proposed budget, an $882,173 increase over the adopted 2013 budget of $69.1 million, during work sessions over the next month and a half. When factoring in the water and fire protection districts, the budget increases another $20,000 for the upcoming fiscal year.

The supervisor's proposal keeps the budget under the state mandated tax levy cap.

The budget increase of approximately 1.3 percent does translate to a tax rate increase for residents. Those residing in the Village of East Hampton, where properties are assessed higher on average, are looking at a 1.81 percent tax rate rise, while those living outside the village are projected to see a 2.76 percent increase.

Since Wilkinson took office, the budget has decreased $1.76 million, or 2.46 percent, he said. The budget he inherited in 2010 was set at $71.7 million, and a $27 million 2009 general fund deficit.

Wilkinson explained that the town absorbed over $22 million in deficit financing while lowering its budgets and tax rates, which includes the debt service on the deficit borrowing. Another $11.5 million is scheduled to be paid down next year, he said. 

"My four budgets culminate with a 2014 Tentative Budget that delivers government and services to the people of East Hampton at a cheaper rate than they were charged when we came into office four years earlier," Wilkinson said in his budget message. "If we take the 2010 budget presented to us from the prior administration; adjust by inflation for years 2011 through 2014; and then factor the effect of our financial efforts over that same period of time, our performance has led to $50 million dollars of tax savings for the East Hampton taxpayers."

While Wilkinson has not changed his mind about the Scavenger Waste plant, the board's decision not to sell or lease the facility led to an appropriation of $862,000 to run the plant as a transfer station in 2014. 

"I am projecting a deficit of at least $500,000 by the end of 2013," he said, explaining that the 2013 adopted budget included money to pay back funds borrowed by the Scavenger Waste Fund during 2012 to operate the plant as a transfer station. In 2011, the board voted unanimously to sell or lease the plant by the end of the first quarter in 2012. After new board members took office in January, the board could not come to an agreement and the project stalled. 

The 2013 budget also included appropriations to operate the plant as a transfer station for the first three months of 2013, in hopes that a final decision could be reached.

"As a result of the board decision in February to not sell or lease the plant, we were forced to levy more than $700,000 in property taxes on residents that I believe would have not been necessary if the previous Town Board’s decision of 2011 was implemented in 2012," he said. "Now, with the decision still not being made, the cost to our residents in additional property taxes aggregates to well over $1,500,000."

Employee salaries and benefits still makeup the biggest chunk of the budget. At $41.27 million, it's 58.99 percent of the proposed 2014 budget. Debt service comprises 17.79 percent at $12.45 million. 

The board will discuss the budget during Oct. 8 and 15 work sessions, the first of which will be held at the Montauk firehouse. A public hearing will be held at Town Hall on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.
    The board will have to adopt the budget by its work session on Nov. 19, to meet the Nov. 20 deadline. 

    Lady L October 03, 2013 at 09:40 AM
    Great job, Bill, though I wish you could have actually reduced the property tax burden.
    Sharon Marie Buckler October 03, 2013 at 10:04 AM
    Thank you Bill, for everything you have done. Anyone can run a town that has money. You put back our good credit standings with revamping the entire budget. With what you were left with from the last administration, you did a spectacular job. Kudos to Len Benard!
    Liz Robertson October 03, 2013 at 10:15 AM
    Thanks to your good work, the Town was given a large monetary award. Something like 500,000. Amazing. Hope the Republicans stay in charge. How can we deny the good work of this group.
    MARTIN DREW October 03, 2013 at 11:54 PM
    The Wilkinson Team did what they set out to do : plug the holes in the $inking $hip .. The financial prowess of Mr Stanzione should continue with your vote of support and allow him to continue in a era of doing more problem solving with a $ound ve$$le to work from .. And Theresa Quigley brought LEGAL PROWESS and ideology to the forefront of political gestations necessary to achieve the recognition by state officials as a example of town government and effective mgt practices . Supervisor Wilkinson brought discipline and leader$hip in a time of cri$i$! $30 million$ rea$on$ to recognize a job well done . Not everyone is a good bo$$ .. But Ol' Wilky - one of the be$t.. I'm thinking Senator / Congressman ... but hey that's just me .. what do I know ..

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