The Southampton Village Board has opened the door to piercing the 2 percent cap imposed by the state on tax levy increases.
The mayor and trustees adopted legislation at their March 8 meeting that would allow the board to lift the limit set by a 2011 state law. That law authorizes a local municipality's governing body to override the tax cap for the coming fiscal year through legislation approved by at least 60 percent of the board.
Mayor Mark Epley assured those at the meeting that the law is a "necessary evil" that the board hopes never to have to put it into action. "It's there to be used," he said. "We don't want to use this tool, but it's there if we need it."
Village Administrator Steve Funsch described the measure as a budgetary "safety net" for the village.
Epley said budget expenditures that the board has “no control over,” such as village payouts to the state retirement system, could potentially cause the law to come into play.
However, Village Attorney Dick DePetris stressed that the board would still be required to hold a public hearing and conduct further discussion if and when the application of the new law becomes a possibility.
"[Approving this] doesn't commit you to override the limit," DePetris told the board. "It just enables you to override it if you find that you need to." He added that the new law would apply only to the upcoming budget commencing in June of this year.
Assured Trustee Nancy McGann, "We've never been reckless. I think we've been very careful [about] how we are spending money."
New Dumpster Restriction
Also passed into law during the board's meeting March 8 was an amendment to the village zoning code regarding dumpster containers, which are now required to remain closed at all times and screened from view by a stockade or similar fenced-in enclosure. The new law applies only to nonresidential (business district) properties in the village. The law, which previously applied only to the Village Business District, has been expanded to include the Highway Business, Office Business and Hampton Road Office zoned districts.
Obviously, explained Epley, it's lawful to open the dumpsters when trash is being removed or placed into the containers. Otherwise they must remain closed and securely fenced in and away from view.
McGann, who initially spurred efforts to get the new law before the board for a vote, said, "You would think if you have a dumpster, you would keep it clean. But that's not always happening." Trustees said code officers and the have been alerted to the new law and emails will be sent out notifying business owners of the change.