An initial draft of the 2012-13 Southampton Village budget calls for the highest tax levy increase allowed under state law.
The 2 percent tax cap mandated by New York State, which took effect this year, allows for several adjustments that can bring the number up or down; in the village's case, the adjusted cap is 5.34 percent. That takes into consideration the growth of the village's tax base plus rising pension costs. However, while the tax levy is budgeted to grow by $948,594, the total budget is slated to go up just $892,433, or 3.78 percent.
In the prior two budgets, the tax levy grew by more than 11 percent.
With a proposed $24.5 million budget, the tax rate is expected to rise 2.01 percent, to $16.984 per $100 of assessed value. A year prior, the tax rate rose 6.22 percent
But, when he presented the budget at Thursday's Village Board meeting, Village Administrator Stephen Funsch said the tax rate could be affected by changes in how the state mandates municipalities assess condos. Though condos in the village have sold for as much as $1.5 million recently, the village is now required to assess condos based on the rental income they generate instead of sale value.
Mayor Mark Epley said that though condos could command rents of $70,000 during the summer, during the off-season the same condos may be rented for as little as $1,500 per month.
"It's really hurting the municipality as well as all the other people who live in the community," Trustee Mancy McGann said of the state requirement.
Areas where the budget increased significantly include the staffing level of 911 dispatchers, up 29.14 percent to $850,715. Funsch said more staff needed to be added to be compliant with a new state mandate.
The Highway Department budget is slated to grow by 8.52 percent, reaching $2.3 million, and employee benefits is budgeted for a 6.18 percent increase, reaching $6.7 million. The Parks Department budget is proposed to grow by 11.57 percent, reaching $910,337.
The village expects the amount of money it takes it from fines and forfeitures will dip by $110,000, or 19.30 percent.
The budget hearing will continue at the April 24 Southampton Village Board work session at .