Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter’s tentative 2018 budget calls for a 1.63 percent increase in the tax rate for the three town-wide funds — the general fund, highway fund and street-lighting district — to fund a combined $1.1 million increase in spending, bringing total town-wide spending to $56.9 million and the total town operating budget to $95.5 million.
The budget is within the state-imposed property tax levy, which for Riverhead Town this year is 2.76 percent, according to town financial administrator William Rothaar.
The supervisor’s spending plan would mean an “average increase of $45” to taxpayers, Walter said. That number does not include special district taxes, such as the water and sewer districts.
“It’s amazing what we were able to do,” the supervisor said at this morning’s town board work session, where he discussed his tentative budget with board members.
“We turned around a 12 percent deficit,” he said. The highway department is fully funded, Walter said. The water district, which owed the general fund $1 million, is balanced, he said. The ambulance district has a revenue stream — because of medical billing — that will allow the town to expand the ambulance headquarters.
“I’m probably prouder of this budget than any other budget we’ve done,” the supervisor said. “It’s 100-percent balanced. Every single line in the budget is balanced. Every single thing is funded,” he said. The budget includes a new code enforcement officer and also increases the police department by one full-time officer, Walter said.
“The board has done a lot of hard work in the last eight years to get to this point,” the supervisor said. “You can’t make a criticism of this budget and have it stand up to any scrutiny, because once you start crunching the numbers, you’ll see it.”
The full budget plan should be posted on the town website by the end of the week and will be available in the town clerk’s office on Monday, Rothaar said.
By state law, the town supervisor is required to file his tentative budget with the town clerk by Sept. 30.
The next step is for the town board to review the tentative budget and, if it wants to, make any changes allowed by law. After the town board completes its review, and approves any changes it deems advisable, the tentative budget and any changes made by the town board becomes the preliminary budget.
The town board is required by state law to hold a public hearing on the preliminary budget, showing any changes made by the board, on or before the Thursday immediately following the general election. (The general election is held on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November.) This year, the hearing on the preliminary budget is required to be held on or before Thursday, Nov. 9.
The board must adopt a final budget by Nov. 20.
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