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Not Much Change In Village Budget

The Village of New Hyde Park Board of Trustees held their 2014-15 tentative budget hearing on Monday, April 7, where a proposed budget of $6 million was presented.


The appropriation represents an increase of $160,512 from the 2013-14 budget and a tentative tax levy of $4.135 million, a 1.8 percent increase from last year.


“Working on this year’s budget was one of the hardest we’ve ever done,” Village Mayor Robert Lofaro said.


Lofaro explained that the New York State-imposed 2 percent tax cap limits the village from raising taxes and when the village “plugged their figures into the formula” that calculates the tax cap, the result was the village had to keep taxes “not more than 1.8 percent in order to remain under the tax cap.”


Lofaro informed residents that Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced refunds to residents if their municipalities remain within the two percent cap.


“The plan says that [low levy] has to be kept for two years, and in the second year, the municipalities have to present a plan on how to reduce expenses by 1 percent each year for the next three years,” Lofaro explained. “I can tell you right now, that’s almost going to be impossible to do with our small budget of $6 million—it presents great challenges for us to maintain that level of expenses.”


“$74k (1.8 percent) might be a lot of money for some, but when you’re running a municipality that has increasing expenses, that $74k can be whipped out in one line item—hopefully we’re raising enough taxes to cover our expenses for this coming year,” said Lofaro.


Village Clerk Cathryn Hillman concurred with Lofaro’s statements, saying: “Every year, we struggle to make cuts, and where else can you cut without having an impact on services?”


Trustee Donald Barbieri echoed Lofaro’s concerns, saying: “Over the 30 years I’ve been here, one line at a time, year after year, we’ve tried very hard to squeeze out any fat so we don’t take a dollar more.”


Barbieri would welcome some “fluff” in the budget to pay to offset the tax cap issue.


“It would be much easier to pay what we need to pay with this tough tax cap,” Barbieri said.


The proposed tax rate is $20.96 per $100 of assessed valuation, which represents a 1.65 percent increase ($0.34 from last year’s budget).  The average assessed household in the village, with an assessed valuation of $5,400, would be required to pay an additional $18.36 per year in village tax.


The total village assessment roll, as of April 1, was set at $19,730,367, which has increased by $37,874 from last year’s $19,692,493. Other revenue projected in the tentative budget is $1,878,181.71, representing an $86,226.43 increase from 2013-14, approximately 4.81 percent.


“Once we adopt the budget [before June 1], the clerk’s office will then know what the tax rate will be and then tax bills can begin to be prepared,” Lofaro said.


Medical, dental and vision expenses are projected at $811,998, which is an increase of $123,356 from last year.  Some employees are now required to contribute between 10 and 20 percent towards those three expense categories.


State requirement expenses are projected to be $397,196, representing an increase of $9,581 from 2013-14; workers compensation insurance expenses are projected to be $146,528, representing a decrease of $3,431 from last year; the increase of the total village assessment roll of $37,874, representing an increase in tax revenue of $7,938; and the claims and judgments expense has been decreased by $36,300 from last year to satisfy court settlements for overpayments of property taxes.